This course is about areas dedicated nature conservation, "protected areas": how they work and why they are so important in maintaining the health of the environment in a fast developing world, and in particular in Africa. It will help you understand the challenges of conservation in Africa and how protected areas can help to deal with it, from the local to the international level.
NB: The course “Protected Areas Management in Africa" will close definitively on October 12, 2017.
Q: How is is this course organised?
A: This course is composed of 7 thematic modules (key concepts, planning, governance, management effectiveness, specificities of management, financing, topical issues) that include videos (introduction, 5 themes, one video on a convention related to PA and conclusion), readings, training quizzes (optional) and exams (one per week - compulsory for the certificate).
Q: Who present it?
A: Many speakers share their knowledge and field experience during this course coordinated by the four professors: Paul Ndiaye from UCAD in Dakar, Paul Ouedraogo from the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, Sylvie Goyet who used to work at the International Foundation for the Banc d'Arguin and Geoffroy Mauvais, who from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-Papaco) and external collaborator at the College of Humanities at EPFL. The MOOC is co-produced by André Hoffmann, IUCN-Papaco and EPFL.
Q: Are there prerequisites?
A: Whether you are a novice or professional conservationist you can follow this MOOC and decide how deep (optional readings, etc) and fast (5h per week for 7 weeks is only indicative, you may take more or less time according to your experience) you want or need to go.
Q: Is this course free?
A: The entire course and access to exams, lectures, exercises is completely free. However, note that Coursera offers an online certificate that you must pay to obtain (this is beyond the control of EPFL and IUCN) and regularly make announcements about it. Even if you do not plan on passing this certificate you can still access all the content of the course, take exams, etc. It is also possible to apply for financial help and to receive this certificate for free (https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/209819033-Apply-for-Financial-Aid)
Q: What if I want a certificate/diploma at the end?
A: There are two options to receive a certificate and a diploma . 1/ The Coursera certificate . For this you must validate all the online exams and pay the certificate to Coursera (see previous question). Note that is only a certificate based on online evaluation and it does not have as much value and recognition as a real diploma. 2 / The EPFL diploma. To receive this diploma you need to take an onsite exam organised 2 times a year. You do not need to pass online exams to register for the onsite exam. This diploma comes with 2 ECTS (European university credits).
EPFL and IUCN are currently working on the creation of a COS (Certificate of Open Studies) composed of several MOOCs, including this one. Only EPFL diplomas and credits will be recognised within this COS (no Coursera certificate).
Q: How may I exchange with the other participants of this course?
A: A forum will be set up from the beginning of the course to collect questions, comments, criticisms and suggestions. The MOOC also a Facebook group in which all participants can exchange: https://www.facebook.com/groups/208309996241190/.
More questions? Read the Handbook for the MOOC participants: http://papaco.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Guide-MOOC_ENG_2809.pdf
Module 1 - Key concepts - Part 1 What are protected areas? How are they distributed? What's their role? What are their particularities? The module convention: the CBD.
Module 1 - Key concepts - Part 2: Conclusion and exam Conclusion of module 1 and exam 1 (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended yet optional for the others).
Module 2 - Planning - Part 1 Planning of protected areas and networks of protected areas, integrated planning, transboundary protected areas. The convention of the module: the Aïchi targets.
Module 2 - Planning - Part 2: Conclusion and exam Conclusion of module 2 and exam 2 (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended for others).
Module 3 - Governance What's governance? What are the 4 types of governance? This module's convention: the Nagoya protocole. Conclusion of module 3 and exam 3 (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended for others).
Module 4 - Management effectiveness - Part 1 Management and effectiveness of PAs. How to assess PAs effectiveness? How to adapt PAs management to enhance their effectiveness? The module's convention: the World Heritage Convention.
Module 4 - Management effectiveness - Conclusion and exam Conclusion of module 4 and exam 4 (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended for the others).
Module 5 - Management specificities Quelques spécificités de gestion des aires protégées en Afrique. La convention du module : la CITES. Conclusion of module 5 and exam 5 (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended for the others).
Module 6 - Financing - Part 1 How to ensure the sustainable financing of protected areas.
Module 6 - Financing - Part 2 How to ensure the sustainable financing of protected areas. The module's convention: the CMS. Conclusion of module 6 and exam 6 (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended for the others).
Module 7 - Topical issues related to conservation - Part 1 Topical issues related to conservation in Africa: climate change, connectivity, equity, traffic, etc. The module's convention: the RAMSAR convention.
Module 7 - Topical issues related to conservation - Part 2: Conclusion and final exam Conclusion of the MOOC and final exam (compulsory for those who wish to apply for an online certificate, recommended for the others).
Paul NDiaye, Geoffroy Mauvais, Sylvie Goyet and Paul Ouédraogo
Kristina Šekrst completed this course and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is quite a different course from others I have encountered, regarding the topic. I have to admit, I've enrolled into it randomly, but I've decided to stay, since this kind of specialized knowledge is rare to be found. This is a great course for people...
This is quite a different course from others I have encountered, regarding the topic. I have to admit, I've enrolled into it randomly, but I've decided to stay, since this kind of specialized knowledge is rare to be found. This is a great course for people working in protected areas, tourism, culture etc., even if they have nothing to do with Africa, since the course teaches management of protected areas overall. Quizzes aren't difficult, and do not rely on facts, but on real-life problems: here's a protected area, what category is it, what seems to be the issue etc. I liked that, since I never knew about IUCN categorization and different types of management and governance. You'll also learn about endangered species and international agreements, such as CITES appendices, which is useful to learn about trade restrictions of flora and fauna. I've become acquainted with various resources such as iucnredlist.org or protectedplanet.net, which are useful for acquiring further knowledge. The course also features interviews with experts in protected areas in Africa, and managers. There is also a French version of the course (the English one has a voice-over translation), and an active Facebook group. If you're looking for something different, check it out.
Stefan Avramov completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The course presents the most important topic and trends in the protected areas management.
The key area and the examples are from Africa but it will be very useful for everybody who is interested in nature conservation and protected areas management in the world.