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A Bridge Between Two Worlds: Samlout Protected Area and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

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A Bridge Between Two Worlds: Samlout Protected Area and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (13:00)

[Cambodian park rangers singing as they raise their flag]

[caption on screen under speaker] Chief Ranger Kevin Hendricks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

I think we should be tremendously proud of exporting the National Park Service ideas and philosophies worldwide to our international partners. The National Park System is something we have done right in this country.

Protecting our nation’s treasures,

protecting our natural resources,

protecting our cultural resources.

This is something that we can really be proud of. And I think it’s something that we can really help developing countries like Cambodia with, helping them protect their resources for their future generations.

[caption on screen under speaker] Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The creation of the National Park Service represented a strong commitment to conservation. To create an agency responsible for protecting the National Park System was very significant in the history of conservation globally.

Now we have a responsibility and an opportunity to extend that legacy to help other countries realize their conservation objectives and protected-area management.

The National Park Service Sister Park Program has over three dozen relationships, and these relationships are by agreement, and they establish strong connections between local parks within a country with a unit of the National Park System, and oftentimes they’re built around similar resources or also similar needs.

One of the benefits for our Sister Park relationship in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is our relationship with a non-governmental organization, the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. And they provide significant funding to support our Sister Park agreement.

So we’re very fortunate to have a sponsor of a non-governmental organization like that, because we don’t use congressionally-appropriated dollars to support our sister park agreements, and you have to have partnerships in order to make these kinds of things happen.

[caption on screen under speaker] Director Jon Jarvis, National Park Service

Many of these countries that are trying to establish these national park systems need just basic assistance on how they’re established, and how they work, and they frequently look to the National Park Service here in the U.S. as a guide for that.

And, for many years, we were pretty much a leader internationally in establishing these, but in recent years that had really gone into decline for a variety of reasons.

And it was nice to see this as an opportunity, not only to work in Southeast Asia but also with the support of Angelina Jolie. We knew we had pretty strong backing financially and with somebody that had a history of being an ambassador-of-goodwill; we felt this would be a positive project.

[caption on screen under speaker] Stephan Bognar, CEO, Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

One of the greatest gifts the United States has offered the world are national parks. And working with the national parks was one of my key objectives when I first started to work at the foundation. How we can build a bridge between Cambodia and the United States Park Service?

How can the U.S.N.P.S. help the foundation, help the Cambodian government rebuild, or actually start a National Park System, so that we can guarantee the survival of the protected areas of the wilderness of the parks?

One of our largest programs is actually in northwestern Cambodia, a former Khmer Rouge territory known as Samlout. In that area, we’re focusing on one of our largest programs, actually environmental security.

How to manage the natural resources; how to protect the green spaces, whilst developing the area. Developing meaning health care providing, health care accessing, education, food security and nutrition, and food-security programs for villagers...

[caption on screen under speaker] Kevin Hendricks, Chief Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

We’ve been involved in Cambodia with Samlout Protected Area in a number of different ways. Primarily we’ve been involved assisting with training in Cambodia, training conservation officers and various other employees of Samlout Protected Area.

For the last three years we’ve sent teams of two rangers over at a time, to help them with intensive two-week training sessions, where they train new rangers and they provide refresher training to existing rangers.

[caption on screen under speaker] Jason Bauwens, Park Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

We were able to provide them training that they don’t otherwise get due to either the cost of it, or just the access and availability of the advanced training that we may get here with the National Park Service.

While we were there, we provided training and defensive tactics, just to increase the safety of the rangers and the staff there, just to better protect themselves while dealing with some of the illegal poachers that they contact throughout the day.

We also provided firearms training, just to help them be better trained with the weapons that they carry in the field, and also specific law enforcement tactics to help them get the upper-hand on people that are conducting both illegal timber and wildlife poaching throughout Samlout Park.

Much of the Samlout Protected Area is still covered in landmines from the Khmer Rouge conflict. And much of that protected area cannot even be traveled, by vehicle or by foot, because of the unknown areas of landmines.

[caption on screen under speaker] Cathy Dalrymple, Park Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

When I first heard about the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to meet the rangers and to help with their training, I was one of the first people to "throw my name in the hat."

I’d actually met the rangers when they came to visit earlier in the year, and I was really excited about the opportunity to get to go and visit their park.

One of the challenges that the Samlout rangers have is that the people in the neighboring communities don’t necessarily have the conservation ethic. They still do the slash-and-burn farming, which, then wildfires get into the park.

One of the biggest things that we wanted to do at the training was to give them a basis of natural resources. They translated the Al Gore movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," into Khmer, and the Cambodians had never seen anything like that.

They didn’t really know about global warming, and hadn’t really heard about it, and so it had a really big impact on them, and they talked about it a lot afterwards. At one of our training sessions, we broke them up into small groups and we talked about how global natural resources issues affect them in Cambodia.

[caption on screen under speaker] Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Our Sister Park relationship with Samlout Protected Area benefits our rangers in providing an experience at the international level. They come back with a broader sense of what protected area management is in other countries, and some of the obstacles those countries have to face that may be quite different than ours here, but these kinds of skills that they bring there may be able to be applied in different ways.

So they can come back with a sense of knowing that they helped creatively resolve some of the problems and that the rangers in the other parks are better trained now.

[caption on screen under speaker] Jon Jarvis, Director, National Park Service

I have yet to experience any National Park Service employee that has gone to do a detail somewhere with the national park, in another part of the world, that hasn’t come back rejuvenated, excited about their job, happy that they’re working in this country, and with the resources that we have.

[caption on screen under speaker] Erika Jostad, Park Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

I think my experience in Cambodia serves in some way just as a reminder to me about the way that peoples’ perceptions are different. We’ve got all sorts of different users that come into Sequoia National Park, and they have a lot of different reasons for coming here.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in things like management policies and procedures, and trying to make sure that everybody stays off the roots of the General Sherman Tree, and lose site of the awe that people have in natural places like this.

I think that being in Samlout reminds you that there are a lot of different ways to enjoy these natural places, and to be respectful and mindful of all these visitors’ different perspectives that they bring.

[caption on screen under speaker] Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

If we can reach out to our neighbors in other countries to provide support for what they may want to achieve, and my counterparts in those countries, what they may want to achieve in their protected area of management, then you’re local- to-local. You’re thinking locally, but you’re acting globally.

[caption on screen under speaker] Jon Jarvis, Director, National Park Service

Soft diplomacy, and the way national parks play in that, there’s rarely any controversy over national parks. We’re not going in and negotiating a trade agreement, we’re not talking about arms reduction, we’re not talking about immigration - all these sort of tough issues.

Parks are non-partisan; they’re positive. The U.S. is looked upon as an international leader in parks because we’ve been around a long time. They look to us for inspiration, and we’ve sort of pulled it off economically. We have public support, and they want to know how to do that. So it’s kind of the perfect export in many ways.

[caption on screen under speaker] Erika Jostad, Park Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

I absolutely think that we’ve got a responsibility to share the wealth of our resources and our knowledge with people in places like Samlout. They welcome the help that they can get, and we’ve got a lot of it that we can offer.

But it was clear to me that there is so much more to happen, and at some level, we’re at the very beginning of what we can offer each other in the way of exchanges.

[caption on screen under speaker] Jason Bauwens, Park Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

I was amazed at the work that had been done prior to me, and the work that we were able to get done while we were there.

But I also realized that, when I came back, that just a few years of this is not enough. It’s something that needs to be ongoing, and there needs to be continued efforts from the National Park Service and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, so that we can continue to help and improve the system at Samlout Protected Area.

[caption on screen under speaker] Stephan Bognar, CEO, Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

It’s amazing to see the look in the eyes, when they walk into an American national park. It inspires them. It motivates them.

When they come back to their own country, they’re encouraged. They’re committed to making sure that they themselves have a national park - a park to be proud of, a park that can provide services to their own local communities.

And I found that, with all of the rangers that came to Cambodia, they all were “awake.” They all understood the mission, and they were committed with us, as real partners and as friends.

[caption on screen under speaker] Erika Jostad, Park Ranger, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

So you realize that you’re part of a much bigger web of people who care deeply about natural places, and see that there are some specific important things that need to be done to protect them, and that we share common goals, and that we can help each other. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing that we all stand to gain from this kind of relationship.

[caption on screen under speaker] Stephan Bognar, CEO, Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

Whether you’re working in a national park in Cambodia, or whether you work in a national park in the United States, we’re all connected. We’re all connected to the ecosystem. We’re all connected to this natural economy.

It’s all of our green spaces - Cambodian, American, Canadian. We are all connected, and we have a collective responsibility to protect our natural resources, to encourage people to come back to these green spaces and be courageous enough to assume their responsibility to protection.

These rangers have inspired me to want to continue our relationship with U.S.N.P.S.

[credits]

Description

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the Samlout Protected Area in Cambodia are "Sister Parks." In this relationship, a non-profit organization provides funding for U.S. park rangers to train Cambodian rangers in law enforcement techniques. (MPEG/mp4)