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Building an evidence base for marine conservation: evaluating the ecological and social impacts of MPAs /Effective conservation planning (to include EBM and MPAs, cumulative impacts)

Room: Carron A     2014-08-15; 11:00 - 13:00

NB: Unless specified otherwise, presentations are 15 minutes in length, and speed presentations are 5 mins in length.

SY35.1  11:00  Estimating impact of MPAs and MPA networks: why and how. Pressey, R.L. *, James Cook University;

Abstract: Protected areas are the cornerstones of the global conservation strategy, but these areas, on land and in the sea, have a serious failing. They are concentrated in areas that are remote and have little value for subsistence or commercial uses. Therefore, they tend to occur where threats to biodiversity are low while losses of biodiversity continue unabated elsewhere. Importantly, this failing is hidden by common measures of conservation progress that emphasize characteristics of protected areas rather than how much loss of biodiversity their establishment has avoided. This mismeasure of conservation stems from a concerted, pervasive focus on protected areas as tools for conservation rather than avoided loss as the ultimate conservation goal. Means and ends have been confused. Putting protected-area science and policy on track requires a much greater emphasis on estimating the impact of protected areas – how much difference they make. Impact evaluation uses increasingly robust methods to estimate the difference that protected areas make to outcomes relative to the counterfactual of no intervention or an alternative intervention. This presentation sets the scene for our symposium by placing impact evaluation in the context of other measures of progress in establishing protected areas, reviewing retrospective and predictive approaches to impact evaluation, and commenting on the potential for impact to be evaluated for social and economic, as well as ecological, outcomes.

SY35.2  11:15  Methods in retrospective impact evaluation of marine protected areas: a review. Gurney, G. *, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University; Pressey, R. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University;

Abstract: An evidence-based approach to designing and managing conservation actions is increasingly advocated to boost the success of conservation interventions, including marine protected areas (MPAs). Critical to evidence-based conservation is knowledge of the past impacts of conservation actions, in order to guide predictions of future impacts and thus decisions about when, where and how management should be implemented. However, retrospective evaluations of the impacts of MPAs are rare, particularly in relation to socioeconomic impacts of MPAs. We reviewed the literature on impact evaluation of protected areas, both marine and terrestrial, to assess the methods employed in retrospective evaluations. We found a wide range of methods, with some terrestrial approaches applicable to the marine environment. For each of the methods, we outline its underpinning assumptions (which are rarely made explicit in the literature), and the implications of these assumptions for making inferences about the causal effects of MPAs. Further, we discuss the feasibility of applying these different approaches to impact evaluation to conservation practice, depending on the objectives of the evaluation and the data available.

SY35.3  11:30  Locally-managed marine areas in the tropical Pacific: Diverse strategies to achieve multiple objectives. Jupiter, SD *, Wildlife Conservation Society, Fiji Country Program; Cohen, PJ WorldFish, Honiara, Solomon Islands; Weeks, RW ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University; Tawake, A University of the South Pacific; Govan, H LMMA network;

Abstract: The expansion of community-based and co-management approaches in the form of locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs) is particularly apparent in the tropical Pacific, where centralized management has typically had low levels of success in managing subsistence and domestically-marketed fisheries. There is strong support for LMMAs because they can be adapted to different contexts and designed to address locally identified objectives. In order to better understand how LMMAs are used in the tropical Pacific we interviewed 50 practitioners, identifying eight overarching objectives for LMMAs: (1) enhancing long-term sustainability of resource use; (2) increasing short-term harvesting efficiency; (3) restoring biodiversity and ecosystems; (4) maintaining or restoring breeding biomass; (5) enhancing economy and livelihoods; (6) reinforcing customs; (7) asserting access rights; and (8) community empowerment. We review outcomes for these objectives from published studies and highlight synergies and trade-offs between objectives. We also discuss effectiveness of various management measures implemented to progress particular objectives, including: permanent closures; periodically-harvested closures; gear, access or species-specific restrictions; livelihood strategies; and processes of community engagement. Despite reports that LMMAs are proliferating, we find relatively few cases that describe objectives pursued, report management tools employed or empirically test outcomes.

SY35.4  11:45  Power and potential of using quasi-experimental design methods to evaluate ecological Impacts of MPAs. Ahmadia, GN *, World Wildlife Fund US; Fox, H World Wildlife Fund US; Glew, L World Wildlife Fund US; Hidayat, N Conservation International ID; Mangubhai, S Wildlife Conservation Society; Pada, D Conservation International ID; Purwanto The Nature Conservancy;

Abstract: Marine conservation strategies often allocate considerable resources towards the establishment and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with the expectation they will provide fisheries as well as biodiversity benefits. While the “reserve effect” has been robustly shown, moving beyond performance indicators and focusing on impact evaluation methods will allow us to document and explain variation in the ecological impacts of MPAs, providing insights to MPA managers and policymakers. Recent marine conservation in the highly bio-diverse Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS) in West Papua, Indonesia, represent an opportunity to robustly document the ecological impacts of MPAs, using state-of-the-art impact evaluation techniques. We adopt a quasi-experimental design that enables causal inference through the explicit consideration of the counterfactual outcome. Coral reef ecological baseline data have been collected at seven MPAs including sites within No Take Zones, Use Zones, and non-MPA control sites. Preliminary analyses reveal wide variability of biophysical factors and resource use-patterns across the Seascape. We demonstrate the need for rigorous statistical matching methods, to select appropriate controls sites. Controlling for observable bias is a critical step in disentangling MPA impacts from broader changes affecting the condition of BHS coral reefs. Moving forward, this quasi-experimental approach will allow us to document and explain the ecological impacts of BHS MPAs.

SY35.5  12:00  Marine protected areas and poverty alleviation: insights from Papua, Indonesia. Glew, L. *, World Wildlife Fund US; Mascia, M.B. World Wildlife Fund US; Pakiding, F. Universitas Negeri Papua; Toru Toja, Y. Universitas Negeri Papua; Allo, A. Univeristias Negeri Papua;

Abstract: Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an integral component of local, national, and international strategies for biodiversity conservation, but their impacts on human well-being remain contested. Advocates tout MPAs as win-win strategies for conservation and poverty alleviation, while opponents argue that MPAs place the welfare of fish above the well-being of impoverished fishing communities. To inform this debate, we are monitoring the social impacts of six MPAs in the Bird's Head Seascape (BHS). Using a quasi-experimental design, we examine human well-being across five social domains: economic well-being, health, political empowerment, education, and culture. We find that the short-term social impacts of MPAs are far from uniform, with the magnitude and direction of impacts varying within and among social groups, across social domains, and between sites, resulting in complex arrays of impacts. MPA impacts are superimposed upon broader trends in human well-being across the BHS, demonstrating the importance of a counterfactual for disentangling the impacts of MPA establishment from unrelated shifts in human well-being. The variable social impacts of MPA establishment provide insights for site-level adaptive management and highlight the need for greater nuance when evaluating the social impacts of conservation interventions as the foundation for analyzing protected area –poverty linkages.

SY35.6  12:15  Impact of a global sample of MPAs on biomass of harvested reef fish. Kininmonth,S.J. *, Stockholm University; Edgar, Graham University of Tasmania; Stuart-Smith, Rick University of Tasmania; Willis, Trevor University of Portsmouth; Thomson, Russell University of Tasmania; Becerro, Mikel University of La Laguna;

Abstract: In line with global targets agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) is increasing rapidly, yet socio-economic benefits generated by MPAs remain difficult to predict and under debate. MPAs often fail to reach their full potential as a consequence of factors such as illegal harvesting, regulations that legally allow detrimental harvesting or inadequate size of reserve. Here we show that the conservation benefits of 87 MPAs investigated worldwide increase exponentially with the accumulation of five key features: no take, well enforced, old (>10 years), large (>100km2), and isolated by deep water or sand. Using effective MPAs with four or five key features as an unfished standard indicate that total fish biomass has declined about two-thirds from historical baselines as a result of fishing. These estimates are based on the comparative analysis of MPA implementation for each marine ecoregion and this requires a counterfactual approach in fishing pressure intervention. Assumptions implicit in estimating the impact relative to the counterfactual are particularly important for the cases where the MPA is less effective than neighboring fished areas. Our results show that global conservation targets based on area alone will not optimize protection of marine biodiversity. More emphasis is needed on better MPA design, durable management and compliance to ensure that MPAs achieve their desired conservation value.

SY35.7  12:30  Predicting future impacts of MPAs with simulation models. Melbourne-Thomas, J *, Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre; Gurney, GG ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University;

Abstract: To improve the effectiveness of conservation investments, there have been increasing calls for evidence-based approaches to implementation of conservation actions, including marine protected areas (MPAs). One of the keys to evidence-based conservation is the evaluation of impact, or how much difference actions make to desired outcomes. Simulation models are an ideal tool to facilitate evidence-based conservation because they can be used to evaluate the potential impacts of alternative conservation actions (including comparison with future counterfactual situations without interventions) at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Further, the particular value of using simulation models to evaluate the future impacts of conservation actions is that they allow users to explore how impacts can change under different climatic and environmental scenarios, which can reveal the potential for ecological ‘surprises’ (e.g. tipping points). We discuss the utility of simulation modeling in evidence-based conservation, illustrating with examples from our work developing bio-physical simulation models of coral reef systems for the Philippines region of the South China Sea and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. We also discuss the challenges and opportunities for using simulation modeling to predict future impacts of MPAs to inform real-world conservation decision-making.

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