International Scholars Learn Best Practices at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Two scholars from World Heritage Sites in China and the Philippines are studying how Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, also a World Heritage Site, operates. Once they return to their countries, they will share how the National Park Service successfully integrates conservation and tourism.

Jovel Ananayo - NPS Photos by Stephen Geiger

Jovel Ananayo, 35, is a National Park Service World Heritage Fellow from the Philippines, and a tourism post-graduate student at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He works as the tourism specialist for the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo), a nongovernmental organization embarking on the conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. The rice terraces are more than 2,000 years old and represent “an absolute blending of humankind and the environment,” according to UNESCO. But they face many challenges, from introduced invasive pests, tourism pressure on natural and cultural resources, diminishing indigenous knowledge systems, very limited financial resources, and more.

“What amazes me here is how all the divisions and experts work together. You have experts on cultural and natural resource management and the eruption crew all providing information to the interpretation team who very effectively share their knowledge with visitors. That’s how it should be,” Ananayo said. “In Ifugao, efforts are much more fragmented, but we hope to improve on our collaboration and on how we integrate cultural and natural heritage in our tourism activities drawing from the model of the Hawai‘i Volcanoes,” he said.

Li Lijuan - NPS Photo by David Boyle

Li Lijuan, 27, works for Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve in China’s Yunnan Province, part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a World Heritage Site. Lijuan took a leave of absence to participate in the East West Center’s Asia Pacific Leadership Program, where she studied political, global and regional emerging issues, trends, and leadership last semester. This semester, she’s serving as an intern at Hawai‘i Volcanoes to better understand how the U.S. national park system operates. Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve emphasizes preservation and restoration, and is probing how to balance protecting natural resources, provide access, and sustainable utilization.

“The United States has a very good  national park system, and you excel at balance. Here people can appreciate nature,” she said.

This year, Hawai‘i Volcanoes celebrates its 25th anniversary of becoming a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, recognized internationally for its outstanding universal value. The park is one of only 21 World Heritage sites in the United States, and 936 worldwide. Today, visitors, students and volunteers from around the world come to experience its natural and cultural wonders, found nowhere else on earth.

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