Marine protected areas can improve both human well-being and biodiversity conservation, new study finds

Article originally posted at UBC Oceans. A new study finds that marine protected areas (MPAs) have the potential to help both the environment and people’s well-being, with positive and negative impacts often occurring at the same time, shedding light on a traditionally understudied area. The study investigated how different aspects of human well-being are affected […]

Local support for conservation is associated with perceptions of good governance, social impacts, and ecological effectiveness

Local support is important for the longevity of conservation initiatives. The literature suggests that perceptions of ecological effectiveness, social impacts, and good governance will influence levels of local support for conservation. This paper examines these relationships using data from a survey of small‐scale fishermen in 11 marine protected areas from six countries in the Mediterranean Sea. The survey queried small‐scale fishermen regarding perceptions and support for conservation. We constructed composite scores for three categories of perceptions—ecological effectiveness, social impacts, and good governance—and tested the relationship with levels of support using ordinal regression models. While all three factors were positively correlated with support for conservation, perceptions of good governance and social impacts were stronger predictors of increasing support. These findings suggest that employing good governance processes and managing social impacts may be more important than ecological effectiveness for maintaining local support for conservation.

A modelling approach to assess the impact of land mining on marine biodiversity: assessment in coastal catchments experiencing catastrophic events (SW Brazil).

Analysis that link hydrological processes with oceanographic dispersion offer a promising approach for assessing impacts of land-based activities on marine ecosystems. However, such an analysis has not yet been customised to quantify specific pressures from mining activities on marine biodiversity including those from spillages resulting from tailing dam failure. Here, using a Brazilian catchment in which a tailing dam collapsed (Doce river) as a case study, we provide a modelling approach to assess the impacts on key ecosystems and marine protected areas subjected to two exposure regimes: (i) a pulse disturbance event for the period 2015–2016, following the immediate release of sediments after dam burst, which witnessed an average increase of 88% in sediment exports; and (ii) a press disturbance phase for the period 2017–2029, when impacts are sustained over time by sediments along the river’s course. We integrated four components into impact assessments: hydrological modelling, coastal-circulation modelling, ecosystem mapping, and biological sensitivities. The results showed that pulse disturbance causes sharp increases in the amount of sediments entering the coastal area, exposing key sensitive ecosystems to pollution (e.g. rhodolith beds), highlighting an urgent need for developing restoration strategies for these areas. The intensity of impacts will diminish over time but the total area of sensitive ecosystems at risk are predicted to be enlarged. We determined monitoring and restoration priorities by evaluating and comparing the extent to which sensitive ecosystems within marine protected areas were exposed to disturbances. The information obtained in this study will allow the optimization of recovery efforts in the marine area affected, and valuation of ecosystem services lost.

Addressing criticisms of large-scale Marine Protected Areas.

Designated large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs, 100,000 or more square kilometers) constitute over two-thirds of the approximately 6.6% of the ocean and approximately 14.5% of the exclusive economic zones within marine protected areas. Although LSMPAs have received support among scientists and conservation bodies for wilderness protection, regional ecological connectivity, and improving resilience to climate change, there are also concerns.

Human dimensions of large-scale marine protected areas: advancing research and practice.

This special issue of Coastal Management focuses on the human dimensions of large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs), those MPAs that are typically larger than 250,000 km2. We define ‘human dimensions’ as the cultural, social, economic, political, and institutional factors that affect and are affected by large-scale marine conservation efforts. While human dimensions of marine conservation and coastal management have long been a focus of research, they have not yet received sustained and systematic consideration in relation to LSMPAs specifically. Although there is an emerging body of scholarship focused on the human dimensions of LSMPAs, this is the first collection of papers devoted to their analysis. The purpose of this special issue is to showcase the diversity of human dimensions of LSMPAs, illustrating the range of contexts in which LSMPAs function, the variety of social science tools that can be used to analyze LSMPAs, the ways that human dimensions considerations can be integrated into LSMPA management, and the diverse human dimensions outcomes that are associated with LSMPAs.

Why people matter in ocean governance: incorporating human dimensions into large-scale marine protected areas.

Large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs) are rapidly increasing. Due to their sheer size, complex socio-political realities, and distinct local cultural perspectives and economic needs, implementing and managing LSMPAs successfully creates a number of human dimensions challenges. It is timely and important to explore the human dimensions of LSMPAs. This paper draws on the results of a global “Think Tank on the Human Dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas” involving 125 people from 17 countries, including representatives from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, professionals, industry, cultural/indigenous leaders and LSMPA site managers.

Building towards the marine conservation end-game: consolidating the role of MPAs in a future ocean.

Progress on spatial conservation efforts in marine environments is often summarized with the simplistic metric of extent. However, targets require a more nuanced view, where ecological effectiveness, biodiversity, representation, connectivity and ecosystem services must all be recognized. Furthermore, these targets must be achieved through equitable processes and produce equitable outcomes.

Imprecise and weakly assessed: evaluating voluntary measures for management of marine protected areas

Voluntary measures may be an alternative or addition to legislation for marine protected areas (MPAs), yet the effectiveness of these measures is rarely analyzed. The application and effectiveness of voluntary measures was reviewed for MPA management in developed nations where complex jurisdictions and legislative processes make voluntary measures appealing to management. Four types of voluntary measures were identified: sacrifice of access, sector- or activity-specific restrictions, voluntary stewardship, and education or outreach, with sector- or activity-specific measures being the most common.

X