About Us

The Center for Protected Area Management (CPAM) is an outreach center of the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department at Colorado State University.  CPAM is also housed within the Warner College of Natural Resources, one of the most comprehensive Natural Resource College’s in the world.


To extend the Colorado State University land-grant mission by contributing to the conservation, planning, and management of the world’s protected areas and the landscapes and seascapes that connect them through capacity building, applied research, and technical collaboration with the organizations that help manage them and the communities whose well-being depends on them.

upward view of trees

Protected Areas:

According to the World Conservation Union, “A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”  This includes areas managed for strict protection or multiple use, and areas that are managed by governments, civil society organizations, and local or indigenous communities.

Did you know that Protected Areas…

  • … provide drinking water to one in three of the world’s 100 largest cities;
  • … serve as a carbon sink, buffering out impact to the planet by absorbing our CO2 emissions;
  • … keep us healthy by being the source of clean air and water, as well as new medicines;
  • … help reduce the risks and consequences of extreme events such as floods, storm-surges, drought and sea-level rise;
  • … enhance food security by boosting fisheries and preserving wild relatives of crops; and
  • … provide homes, jobs and livelihoods to millions of people around the world.


2014 IUCN World Parks Congress


Purpose and background

The Center for Protected Area Management is dedicated to equipping protected area managers and personnel with the knowledge and tools they need to help confront and overcome the challenges the face.  We provide support for the development and dissemination of innovative techniques for the management of our global protected areas. We also seek to build a motivated, trained, equipped, confident, and supported global protected area workforce that is capable of equitable management that will benefit present and future generations around the globe.

Ranger speaking at seminar

For more than a hundred years Colorado State University has played a leadership role in research, teaching, training and technical assistance related to the world’s natural resources. Over the years this leadership role has expanded to include public lands and protected areas management.  Protected areas consist of the single largest land use on the planet. For example, there is more land area dedicated to protected areas then to cities or to agriculture. Currently over 15% of the world’s land surface and 5% of the global oceans are declared in protected areas. Globally agreed upon goals have countries aiming to increase protected area coverage to 20% of the global land surface and 10% of the oceans. It is widely recognized that these areas play a vital role in maintaining the earth’s biotic diversity, ecosystem health, and human well-being. Sound management provided by trained professionals and citizen support will ensure that protected areas continue to contribute to a sustainable, resilient planet for all life on earth. The Center for Protected Area Management was formed to assist protected area professionals and local communities in strengthening the management of the world’s protected areas and adjacent lands.

Group of people standing in circle outdoors

Our Objectives

  • Provide technical assistance and training to protected area managers both nationally and internationally
  • Provide opportunities for research and training to students in protected area management and expose them to a range for work environments
  • Contribute to the shared knowledge base and network of protected areas throughout the world
  • Integrate the knowledge and experience gained while working with protected area managers into professional literature, training materials, courses, seminars and other university activities.

For more information about CPAM, please feel free to contact us at protectedareas@colostate.edu