Comparing and integrating community-based and science-based approaches to prioritizing marine areas for protection

We compared and integrated marine protected areas proposed through community and scientific assessments in 2 regions of British Columbia, Canada. The community priorities were identified during individual and group interviews with knowledgeable resource users. The scientific priorities were developed with abiotic and biotic data in Marxan, a decision-support tool.

The resulting maps of community-based and science-based priorities were very similar for the inshore areas, which lent credibility to both approaches. The resource users thought the science-based maps were fairly good at highlighting areas important for conservation, but preferred the scenarios that integrated the 2 maps to either constituent map.  Incorporating spatial variation in human impacts on the marine areas and commercial fishing, which are both costs of protection, into our Marxan analyses led to scenarios that were different from either constituent map.

Our results show the value of integrating community-based and science-based approaches in conservation planning to achieve community acceptance and conservation utility. They also reveal that people’s assessments on the basis of their traditional ecological knowledge may serve as a reasonable proxy for scientific approaches in selecting areas of ecological value.

Ban, N.C., C. Picard and A.C.J. Vincent. 2009.  Comparing and integrating community-based and science-based conservation approaches to prioritizing marine areas for protection. Conservation Biology 23(4):899-910. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01185.x