Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Local Social Dynamics Key to Success of Tropical Marine Conservation Areas

As biologists and ecologists propose ever-larger conservation areas in the tropics, ones that encompass multiple countries, social scientists say it’s local people banding together with their community leaders who ultimately determine the success or failure of such efforts in many parts of the world.

“When people sacrifice to conserve, they want to benefit from that sacrifice,” says Patrick Christie, University of Washington associate professor of marine affairs and a Pew fellow in marine conservation. “People expect direct economic and social benefits from conservation.”

Conflicts develop, however, when outsiders move in to take advantage of improving environmental conditions. Managing such conflicts poorly generally leads to the collapse conservation efforts, he says.

Friday during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Diego, Christie reported on how such conflicts are being successfully handled by small, Filipino non-governmental organizations, community members and their mayors in 36 communities with marine protected areas. Marine protected areas are sites in which these communities do not fish in order to restore overfished coral reefs.

Christie organized the session “Ensuring Marine Policy is Responsive to Social Dynamics and Management Experience” with Richard Pollnac of the University of Rhode Island. The session looked at marine conservation efforts in the tropics in regions such as the six countries of the “Coral Triangle”: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island and Timor-Leste. The vast majority of ocean biodiversity is found in the tropics. Then too, most of the people who live there are highly dependent on marine resources for food, so sustaining those resources is a concern of leaders around the world from a food-security standpoint, Christie says.

Christie has conducted studies in the Philippines where residents have extensive experience with ecosystem-based management and hundreds of marine protected areas. The success of those protected areas varies widely, he says.

“What’s exciting about work in the Philippines is that conservation can be successful if people don’t see it as being forced on them. They need to have the sense they are in the driver’s seat,” he says.

Christie says social dynamics determine the success of ocean conservation. In his study in the Philippines, more than 500 people were asked such things as the number of community meetings they’d attended on conservation areas, how – on a scale of one-to-five – they thought their opinion mattered, if someone from their community was on the governance committee overseeing the area and if they felt their community’s mayor listened to them.

Then there were measurements of biological changes once conservation areas were established to see, for example if fish numbers were up or corals were healthier. Residents also were asked if they felt catches had increased and if they felt there were more or less fish.

One important finding was that participatory planning and leadership at the mayoral level was key to dealing with the illegal fishing that troubles so many members of the communities making sacrifices in conservation areas. Unlike in the United States, there is no Coast Guard to enforce rules and no courts to turn to for relief, so collaboration between localities becomes very important.

Fostering collaboration, perhaps by helping train community leaders, and focusing on other factors concerning governance and social conditions is as important to the success of conservation areas as using the right biological and ecological parameters, Christie says.

Christie and his students’ work in the Philippines during the last six years has been facilitated by the Filipino NGO Coastal Conservation Education Foundation and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

For more information:
Christie,; Feb. 18 to 20 phone 619-234-1500 (room 916); after AAAS, office phone 206-685-6661
Related journal article: Coastal Management, April 2009
“Tropical Marine EBM Feasibility: A Synthesis of Case Studies and Comparative Analyses”

Related journal article: Coastal Management, May 2009
“Back to Basics: An Empirical Study Demonstrating the Importance of Local-Level Dynamics for the Success of Tropical Marine Ecosystem-Based Management”

Sandra Hines | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>