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Regional Seas News

Establishing national and regional systems of Marine Protected Areas:

A review of selected systems with analysis of lessons learned
With  growing  recognition  that  the  target  set  by  the World Summit on Sustainable  Development in 2002 and later reinforced by the Parties to the Convention  on  Biological  Diversity  (CBD),  to establish 'comprehensive, effectively-managed  and ecologically representative national and regional systems  In  line  with  CBD  terminology,  the  project  will use the term 'system'  for organized groups of protected areas established at sub-global level  and  'network' for the global level.  There is much variation in the use  of  these  two  words, and the term 'MPA network' is sometimes used to refer  to  spatially  organized  groups of MPAs and sometimes for organized groups  of  MPA  practitioners and managers (e.g. the NAMPAN network for N.
America, CAMPAN for the Caribbean etc.) of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012'  will be tough to meet, there has been a rush to accelerate the process.

Considerable   material  exists  on  the  theory  and  best  practices  for developing systems of protected areas and many countries have initiated the necessary  planning  and, in some cases, implementation processes. However, although  it  is  relatively  simple to calculate the increase in number of MPAs  and the growth in area of their coverage by 2012, determining whether systems    are   'comprehensive,   effectively-managed   and   ecologically representative'  is  more  difficult.   A  quick  survey of the literature, conference  proceedings  and  other  sources  shows  that a wide variety of approaches  are  being  taken.  MPA systems include no-take reserves within large  MPAs  (e.g. the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park), no-take reserves or other MPAs at national level (e.g Bahamas, Belize), or MPAs spread across a region or ecoregion (e.g. Meso-American Barrier Reef, North-East Atlantic).

In order to get a better understanding of progress being made, a joint initiative is underway by two UNEP agencies (the World Conservation Monitoring System, Cambridge, UK, and the Regional Seas Programme, Nairobi,
Kenya), in collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
IUCN/WCPA-Marine, the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).   The  aim  is  to  review advances in the development  of MPA systems at different spatial scales, as a first step in measuring  progress  towards the WSSD target, and CBD decision VII/30 which calls  for  the  effective  conservation  of  at  least 10 % of each of the world's ecological regions by 2010.

The project will look at sub-national, national and regional levels and, using the experience so far gathered, will help to identify indicators and mechanisms for measuring progress.  MPAs represent a conveniently small subset of data for such an approach as they make up, by number, less than 5% of the global protected area estate. The review will look at the extent to    which    parameters    such   as   'comprehensiveness',   'ecological representativeness',    'connectivity'    and    'resilience'   are   being incorporated,  as  well  as  the way in which socio-economic and governance factors are considered and the methodologies being used. Since an inventory of    management    effectiveness   is   being   established   through   an IUCN/WCPA/University of Queensland programme, this aspect will not be covered but relevant links will be developed.

Data  that  are  collected  during  the project will be used to correct and amend  information  on  individual sites in MPA Global, and subsequently the World  Database  on  Protected  Areas  (WDPA). The project will represent a continuation and  expansion  of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme/CBD/ICRAN joint project to examine the status of MPAs and systems within the Regional Seas  programmes  and to facilitate development of a strategic approach for meeting  international  targets at the regional level. It will build on and complement WCPA-Marine’s initiative to develop principles for developing MPA systems, and will also complement and involve collaboration with TNC's Marine Learning Partnership.

The first step involves the preparation of an annotated inventory of MPA systems established and/or being developed, using literature, web searches and correspondence with MPA practitioners. More detailed information will be compiled using a questionnaire. The review will help to identify common methodologies, approaches and difficulties in establishing MPA systems and to   compare   the   results   of   this   analysis with the theoretical recommendations and principles that are being developed and promoted.  The outputs will include a report containing a summary of the inventory and the lessons   learned, and outlining preliminary guidance for MPA system establishment, as well as a range of web-based materials.

Marine Protected Areas Leaflet A3 [Download]

Marine Protected Areas News April 2006 [Download]

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