Indicators of effectiveness in community-based marine protected areas

Despite an expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs), a big gap exists in monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness. In less developed countries such as the Philippines, community-based (CB) MPAs have flourished. This thesis focused on exploring how local communities identify indicators of MPA effectiveness and subsequently monitor and evaluate an MPA.

I first examined the process of MPA policy development, and found that global targets may be unknown or meaningless to local communities because of limited localization of international and national policies. In response, I recommend the participation of legitimate multi-level representatives from a network of alliances that can effectively act to harmonize MPA policies.

With the active engagement of communities in the central Philippines, I identified sets of indicators and criteria for evaluating CBMPA effectiveness and found they change over time as MPAs and local conditions evolved, e.g., communities associated with younger MPAs preferred the input and output types of indicators while those associated with older MPAs preferred outcome indicators.

Changes in community expectations as the MPAs evolve also influenced the criteria for evaluation. Analyses of community indicator development, monitoring and evaluation processes indicated that the strongest determinant of participation was social association among the residents. The highest participation levels were recorded for men and youth. The suite of indicators used did not detect changes in the CBMPAs over two years of tracking. However, the monitoring process resulted in a shift from passive to active participation.

During monitoring, community volunteers collected socio-economic data more easily than both enforcement and ecological data in terms of cost, time, skills and social fit. Standardized monitoring and evaluation can be sustained through legislation and institutionalization of management bodies. Also, CBMPA effectiveness indicators need to be developed iteratively to reflect the changing needs and perspectives of local stakeholders.

The wider application of the methods and approaches generated from this thesis needs to be explored for other CBMPAs. Such research ensures that the effectiveness of MPA is evaluated. This is significant due to the commitment of countries to report on the progress of their MPAs by 2010, as set by the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Pajaro, M.G. (2010). Indicators of effectiveness in community-based marine protected areas. Doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia, Canada.