Connecting people with protected areas through exhibit planning in Brazil - 04/2018

During the week of April 9th 2018, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and ICMBio implemented a course to assist the Brazilian government in designing interpretive exhibits and creating enhanced visitor experiences in Brazil’s national parks and forests. The training was co-organized with Colorado State University, with funding from and in partnership with USAID’s Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity Program.

Cheryl Hazlitt, interpretive planner and acting manager of the USFS Rocky Mountain Region’s Center for Design and Interpretation, was an instructor, along with two experts from Sea Reach Ltd., an interpretive design firm based in Oregon.

The course aimed to increase knowledge of interpretative design principles and strengthen skills in analyzing exhibit effectiveness. Fifteen Brazilian Park Service employees representing all Brazilian biomes, as well as the central office, attended the course. Through formal instruction and group exercises participants learned key design principles and explored techniques for creating imaginative and inspiring exhibits that strike the important balance between delivering an interpretive message, creating a provocative experience and designing an aesthetic display. The course also included a practicum where participants evaluated the effectiveness of exhibits at the Tijuca National Park Visitor Center in Rio de Janeiro.

The USFS and USAID aim to support the Brazilian government and Amazon communities in conservation efforts through workshops, seminars, management tools, and on-site technical assistance. Interpretation has been a focal area for the program as a way to empower the Brazilian government and communities to more effectively communicate about the significant resources protected through Brazil’s network of protected areas.