Using the power of UNESCO World Heritage and national park designation, Global Conservation assists national governments and park authorities to protect land and marine reserves using the best systems, technologies and training available.

Our program, called Global Park Defense (GPD), is a multi-year method to achieve “No Cut, No Kill” protection and financial sustainability for continued preservation.

Global Park Defense increases ranger patrol and park protection effectiveness in critical ecosystems. GPD is a scalable system with technology and training tailored to each park, dramatically increasing the effectiveness of rangers and park authorities to protect their world heritage.

Selection Criteria

We are highly selective in choosing the projects that we support. In order for us to implement Global Park Defense, the site must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be an endangered national park or UNESCO World Heritage Site in a developing country
  2. Contain critical habitat for megafauna with intact, primary ecosystems
  3. Must have potential for fundraising and collaboration with other NGO's
  4. Have a park authority willing to commit to the Global Park Defense goal of “No Cut, No Kill”, and be willing to fund park border demarcation and communications towers
  5. Show excellent potential for sustainable tourism to support permanent protection

The Four Stages of Global Park Defense

  1. Planning: Threat assessment, security and surveillance design, ranger deployment strategy. Before we can begin a Global Park Defense program, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the threats. Our first step is to conduct a threat assessment as well as scientific baseline surveys of wildlife populations, which help us to track our progress. We then put together a detailed security and surveillance plan, as well as a strategy for ranger deployment. 
  2. Partnerships: Wildlife and forestry, government, telecommunications and co-funding. Global Conservation brings critically important cofunders, government and private investment, and strategic partners to assist in conservation finance, park infrastructure and communications, scientific research and community-led tourism. 
  3. Protection: Community involvement, law enforcement and military support. Armed with Global Park Defense, rangers are spotting and apprehending more wildlife and timber poachers in the world’s most endangered parks. Under GPD, government rangers, community eco-guards, and sometimes military and police join forces on park protection. These collaborative teams use state-of-the-art tools, like Vulcan EarthRanger, SMART patrolling systems, and drones to intercept criminal activity and stop poaching and logging before it becomes severe.
  4. Sustainability: Governmental budgeting, tourism revenues and park financing. Global Conservation assists in securing long-term financing to fund park and wildlife protection after our multi-year Global Park Defense projects end. Each Global Park Defense deployment requires US$400-500,000 over 5 years for training, equipment and communications systems. Global Conservation requires national governments to increase the number of salaried park rangers and pay all salaries, benefits and insurance. Meanwhile, we bring together critically important co-funders, government and private investment, strategic partners, and carbon offset financing to assist in long-term conservation finance, park infrastructure and staff, communications, scientific research and community-led tourism.

Metrics for Measuring GPD Success

Real Alerts/Real Intelligence: We measure the number of alerts from the first day that cellular trail cameras are installed. If there are already existing camera traps, we note the number of alerts to date so that we have a baseline. In all cases, we check progress every six months to compare to the previous six months. 

Kilometers Patrolled by Foot and Vehicle: It is important to keep accurate records of kilometers patrolled for a few reasons. Firstly, since we aim to increase the number of patrols, we need a baseline. Secondly, it’s also important to eliminate unnecessary patrol kilometers in areas without criminal activity. Finally, patrolling is also used to measure efficiency. If kilometers patrolled have decreased, but arrests and interdictions have increased, we know that we are patrolling more efficiently. We also want to differentiate and analyse the effectiveness of vehicle vs. foot patrols. 

Number of Interdictions: Interdictions need to be analysed to establish which of our methods are the most effective. We must keep track of the number of encounters when on patrol vs. interdictions that result from informant tips or camera alerts, etc. Overall interdiction numbers are then compared to the number of resulting arrests and convictions. 

Number of Arrests/Confiscations: Tracking the number of arrests and confiscations is important, because it gives us the percentage of interdictions/encounters that result in arrests for criminal activity. Confiscating guns, chainsaws, carcasses, drugs, or snares has an impact even without arrests. All confiscated items need to be documented and inventoried for possible future court cases and to monitor the extent of illegal activity.

Prosecutions/Convictions/Jail Time/Fines: Stops and arrests will not have the intended impact if the legal system is failing. Convictions give us a measurement of government efficiency and corruption, and give us the opportunity to identify and change outdated laws and obstructions in the legal system. As an example, if many convictions result in small fines and minimal jail time, we know we need to reexamine the structure of the laws pertaining to wildlife protection.

Public/Media Communications: The media plays a big role in reducing crime, especially when laws are weak. The media can expose criminals within and outside of the community and make people aware of the issues. It also flushes criminals out of hiding and puts added pressure on family, friends, the community and even other criminals to give information. Other criminals do not want media attention and scrutiny in an area where they may also commit crimes.

Wildlife and Forest Baseline Protection: Tracking wildlife populations over time is an excellent way to assess progress, as well as to detect illegal activity. When we begin a GPD project, we start with a baseline wildlife population assessment. Then, we can compare all future assessments to that baseline to determine whether our conservation efforts are proving successful. If we detect a sudden change in a species’ population, it may indicate increased poaching pressure, an increase in indirect impacts such as logging, or a landscape-scale change such as fire, pollution, or a natural disaster. Knock-on effects can happen, too -- a drop in predator numbers will often cause a rise in prey animal species. Once we detect such a change, we can start searching for the cause.

Quick Tips for Kick-Starting a Global Park Defense Program

1. Be Thorough: Do not initiate your GPD plan without doing your own investigation of known and potential threats in the area first. Be thorough in your initial threat analysis; oftentimes, problems on the ground are a product of a greater root issue that needs to be addressed.

2. Paving the Way: Communication is the most important factor in rolling out a GPD plan. All relevant governmental and non-governmental parties must be on board before moving forward, otherwise unforeseen issues will likely arise.

3. Leadership: Assign responsibility for the following:

A. Lead Ranger for the Field

B. Camera Team responsible for relocating cams

C. Communication Center Manager

D. Mapping and GPS

E. Project Manager

4. Minimizing Risk: Only a select group of personnel should know and have access to camera locations. This cuts down on possible corruption, and narrows the investigative field should you have to perform an internal investigation.

5. Data Security: The Command Center is off-limits except for vetted personnel involved directly in the program launch.

6. Data Collection is Key: GPS units are to remain on at all times in the field to leave a digital footprint and record of all incidents and distance traveled.

7. Surveillance: Camera traps can be set at ground or treetop level, either hidden or purposely visible as a deterrent.

8. Common Sense Approach: Camera traps should be placed in strategic locations. Chokepoints, water sources, ridgelines, trail convergences, and of course sites of previous illegal activity are all good places to start when selecting camera locations.

9. Covering Your Bases: Cameras should always be placed in groups of no less than two. Each camera should be within the field of view of another camera. Typically, 4 to 5 cameras will be placed in a selected area to cover alternate routes, all possible navigable directions, and other cameras.

10. Stay One Step Ahead: Cameras themselves can be used as bait to catch thieves, vandals, and criminals. Set up a poorly hidden camera in a location that can be monitored by surrounding hidden cameras to catch people tampering.

11. Community Involvement: The local community is usually your best source of information, so start to build a relationship with locals and make it beneficial for them to share information with you.

12. Laying the Groundwork: Patrolling data must be logged in a timely fashion in order to draw an accurate map of problem areas vs. areas that may demand less attention.

13. Work SMARTer: After year one, all patrolling should be based on the data entered into the SMART system in order to minimize wasted man hours and maximize manpower.

14. Strength in Numbers: Rangers should patrol in groups of at least four when possible but never less than three.

15. Chain of Command: Always establish a point man or woman before any patrol or spontaneous interdiction. This could be the longest-tenured ranger, by rank, or simply by rotating schedule, but must always be established before patrolling.

16. Communication and Mobility: Patrols should be done in a single staggered (left to right) line but can be single file at times.

17. Maintaining Discipline: Always cover the side you are staggered to. The point man looks forward, while the second man is staggered left and therefore covering the left. The third man is staggered to the right, covering the right, and the last man covers the back regardless of the side he is staggered to.

18. Maximize Your Opportunity for Success: Patrols should be done as quietly as possible and hand signals should be used whenever possible.

19. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: When responding to an alert, identify all possible escape routes in that corridor and block them off so that the reaction team can move in.

20. Safety First: When multiple units are responding, all units must know the location and direction of approach of all other units. If rangers deviate from said route, the command center and other units on-site must be immediately notified to avoid friendly fire.21. Growing Your Database: When making contact with suspected or potential criminals, gather as much information as possible to be entered into the database. This includes name, address, date of birth, and photos whenever possible.


  • Know the locations of other rangers on the ground
  • Keep commmand and team notified of your movements
  • Maintain steady communication with other units