The Okefenokee Swamp Park, Inc. (OSP) and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) are embarking on a powerful public-private partnership (the Partnership) — working together towards the goals of the Okefenokee NWR being inscribed as a World Heritage (WH) Site by the United Nations Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO). The Partnership is professionally managed by a Project Management Office (PMO), reporting to a Steering Committee comprised of the OSP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
After the Okefenokee NWR and the OSP formed a PMO in August 2021 to direct a credible and well-funded UNESCO bid, the PMO has proceeded with the following objectives:
- Engage with the community actively and transparently to communicate the implications and benefits of a WH nomination.
- Build a credible and consistent WH nomination narrative for all communication purposes, including this dedicated WH website.
- Establish a platform for dialogue with key actors and stakeholders.
- Establish a technical working group for the elaboration of the nomination dossier, including scientific and UNESCO experts.
- Identify and engage prominent “champions” of a prospective WH nomination – community scientific, and political in background.
- Invest in high quality mapping and overall visual attractiveness of the nomination dossier.
- Continue fundraising and community engagement.
- Refine and build upon the Comparative Analysis discussion and research framework, working with scientific and UNESCO experts to highlight the strongest possible case for Outstanding Universal Value.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge)
Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established to provide “refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.” The refuge provides habitat for threatened and endangered species, such as red-cockaded woodpeckers, wood storks, eastern indigo snakes, and flatwoods salamanders.
Okefenokee Swamp Park, Inc (Okefenokee Swamp Park and Adventures), 501(c)3 Private Partner
Founded in 1946, the OSP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to providing visitor access and interpretive education that inspires conservation advocacy for the Okefenokee Swamp. The OSP cares about the lands and waters on which the Okefenokee and surrounding communities depend and has a guiding vision to promote a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act together to conserve nature for its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives. The OSP is actively engaged with the communities around the Okefenokee to envision a catalytic role in the region as a resource of inspiration, education and stewardship, and positive economic development.
“…In a swamp, as in meditation, you begin to glimpse how elusive, how inherently insubstantial, how fleeting our thoughts are, our identities. There is magic in this moist world, in how the mind lets go, slips into sleepy water, circles and nuzzles the banks of palmetto and wild iris, how it seeps across dreams, smears them into the upright world, rots the wood of treasure chests, welcomes the body home. ”
~ Barbara Hurd, Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination
Photos by: Chris Funk