ESN Impacts and Stories of Success

Case Study: Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya

  • ESN CAse Study: Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya

    Sheprine Akinyi, and her colleagues from Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya, joined the programme in 2013. Find out what she had to say about her experiences. Read more.

Case Study: Gulung Mulu National Park in Malaysia

  • Catherine Hetherington

    Catherine Hetherington, a Government Relations Advisor from Shell, took part in the programme in 2010, and acted as a mentor to three members of staff from Gulung Mulu National Park in Malaysia.Read more.


“The potential scope of this programme is vast. Together, the world’s protected areas cover an area greater than Africa. Many of the organisations that manage these protected areas face significant challenges relating to business management, which go beyond the scope of staff training. Without a strong organisational foundation, protected areas are unable to effectively manage the rich ecosystems under their stewardship. We are utilising the skills and resources of international businesses to meet this need, and in doing so we are helping businesses to better understand the value of natural capital to their organisation, and the important role of protected areas.”

Ben Jack - Senior Programme Manager, Earth Skills Network, Earthwatch Institute


Mentors and Mentees

At the heart of the Earth Skills Network is the interaction between mentee and mentor. It’s a relationship that often transcends the purely professional to create person connections across cultures.

“Alongside his vast experience and knowledge, I found my mentor’s eagerness to help and take time out from his professional life extremely inspiring and encouraging,”
Mentee from India.

“I have thought about participating in a business planning course at one of Ghana's universities for a long time. Through the generosity of the Earthwatch and Shell partnership, I have undergone a high-impact course in business planning. The skills and knowledge acquired are amazing and I can confidently go back home and lead the development of a business plan for my Site.”
Mentee from Ghana.

Of the protected area staff participating in the programme between 2009 and 2016:

  • 99% of protected area staff agreed or strongly agreed that their business mentor helped them to better understand the business planning process,
  • 87% felt that they had improved their site’s network as a result of participation in the programme
  • 99% of mentees felt that the protected are they worked for would be better managed as a result of this programme.

Delivering on the Ground

Collaboration between Business Mentors and protected area staff can make a real impact at these sites. New working practices and ways of thinking at protected areas translate into improvements and changes, which enhance management effectiveness. Highlights include:

  • $25,000 per year of cost savings were identified at Atsinanana Forest in Madagascar.
  • Shirley, a mentee from Malaysia, worked to get another national park gazetted as a UNESCO site, as well as developing a detailed marketing plan.
  • Mentees at Atsinanana Forest in Madagascar ran a community forum to find alternative incomes to replace illegal logging. They also secured space in local hotels for the sale of community crafts and products.
  • An in-depth stakeholder analysis at Pendjari National Park in Benin helped to support the creation of a new tourist organisation which generated closer links to the Tourism Ministry, local hotels, community groups. This will help the site to generate eco-tourism revenue.
  • Daniel, a mentee from Cape Verde, established a new eco-tourism NGO using the business planning process as a baseline for determining organisational objectives and actions.
  • Siyabonga used the skills developed from ESN to establish a network of 21 marine protected areas in South Africa. This has made a significant contribution to the protected area estate of the country.
  • Mentees at Tai National Park worked together to produce a Business Plan for the site. This was the first plan of its type to be produced by employees of the park rather than consultants.

“This program has not only empowered me by improving my capacity as a manager, it has motivated me to take a proactive approach as a key stakeholder in the development and implementation of a business plan as well as improved network to share ideas, challenges and solutions.”
Eduard, 2012 ESN Mentee, South Africa


Through participation in the programme Business Mentors also sharpen their own professional competencies and develop a deeper understanding of sustainability.

Of the business mentors participating in the programme:

  • 98% said that their performance in their own work would improve as a result of what they learned in the project.
  • 100% said that participation in the programme increased their understanding of how protected areas are managed and the challenges they face.

“I think that projects like this which make use of current skills in employees and transfer them to the non-profit sector are a great way of engaging [business] staff with the outside world and opening their eyes to biodiversity preservation issues, whilst also providing an opportunity for long term personal and professional development”
Catherine, 2010 ESN Mentor, UK

This was an invaluable opportunity to apply skills I learnt from Shell in a different environment. It also helped me organise and consolidate my skills.  I gained a huge understanding on community engagement and conservation which gives me an additional lens with to view the world and the business I do.
Harvonne, 2015 ESN Mentor, UAE

“I think that projects like this which make use of current skills in employees and transfer them to the non-profit sector are a great way of engaging [business] staff with the outside world and opening their eyes to biodiversity preservation issues, whilst also providing an opportunity for long term personal and professional development”
Catherine, 2010 ESN Mentor, UK

There are innumerable challenges that these protected areas face that are comparable to business. Businesses develop silos of information, become mired in processes or complexity and face serious external challenges. My experience is incredibly relevant and I feel I have made, and will continue to make, a difference in this protected area, in the communities of my protected area, and the personal and professional lives of my mentees.
Neal , 2014 ESN Mentor, USA

In my role, I deal with government as well as not-for-profit organizations. This experience has allowed me to submerge myself in their world, learn about their challenges/constraints in depth + be able to identify common grounds as well as areas for collaboration.
Maria, 2015 ESN Mentor, Singapore 






THE ESN BENEFITS

Read about the programme successes:
ESN programme successes