Eighteen professionals from 12 countries who are international protected area professionals are visiting the University of Montana as part of the 20th annual International Seminar on Protected Area Management.

ISPAM Instructor Jennifer Thomsen provides details of the nearly month-long program that is taking the visitors to various areas in Montana.

“This is a program that aims to bring professionals from around the world to Montana for about two weeks,” said Thomsen. “During that time we focus on lots of different themes and topic areas related to protected area management, conservation, sustainable tourism, and lots of different aspects in managing these kids of complex systems.”

Thomsen said the professionals who participate in the program are literally from all over the world.

“We usually have from 18 to 25 participants on average,” she said. “This year, we have participants from 12 different countries. We have Cambodia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Senegal, Zambia, Kenya, Dominican Republic and Georgia.”

Thomsen said there are multiple goals within the program, in addition to teaching best practices in protecting sensitive ecosystems.

“The broader goal of this seminar is to not just bring people to western Montana and engage with professionals, but also, what are the long term relationships professionally and personally that can build among the participants in their various countries, as well as with the professionals and different groups that we’re meeting with here,” she said.
The seminar began July 8 and runs through July 26, when the seminar will move to Washington, D.C.