Considering climate change in the development of marine protected areas

Hopkins, Charlotte Rachael (2016) Considering climate change in the development of marine protected areas. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Marine ecosystems are facing a diverse range of threats, including climate change, prompting international efforts to safeguard marine biodiversity through the use of spatial management measures. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been implemented as a conservation tool throughout the world, but their usefulness and effectiveness is strongly related to climate change. However, few MPA programmes have directly considered climate change in the design, management or monitoring of an MPA network. Under international obligations, EU, UK and national targets, Scotland has developed an MPA network that aims to protect marine biodiversity and contribute to the vision of a clean, healthy and productive marine environment. This is the first study to critically analyse the Scottish MPA process and highlight areas which may be improved upon in further iterations of the network in the context of climate change.

Initially, a critical review of the Scottish MPA process considered how ecological principles for MPA network design were incorporated into the process, how stakeholder perceptions were considered and crucially what consideration was given to the influence of climate change on the eventual effectiveness of the network. The results indicated that to make a meaningful contribution to marine biodiversity protection for Europe the Scottish MPA network should: i) fully adopt best practice ecological principles ii) ensure effective protection and iii) explicitly consider climate change in the management, monitoring and future iterations of the network. However, this review also highlighted the difficulties of incorporating considerations of climate change into an already complex process.

A series of international case studies from British Columbia, Canada; central California, USA; the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand, were then conducted to investigate perceptions of how climate change has been considered in the design, implementation, management and monitoring of MPAs. The key lessons from this study included: i) strictly protected marine reserves are considered essential for climate change resilience and will be necessary as scientific reference sites to understand climate change effects ii) adaptive management of MPA networks is important but hard to implement iii) strictly protected reserves managed as ecosystems are the best option for an uncertain future. This work provides new insights into the policy and practical challenges MPA managers face under climate change scenarios.

Based on the Scottish and international studies, the need to facilitate clear communication between academics, policy makers and stakeholders was recognised in order to progress MPA policy delivery and to ensure decisions were jointly formed and acceptable. A Delphi technique was used to develop a series of recommendations for considering climate change in Scotland’s MPA process. The Delphi participant panel was selected for their knowledge of the Scottish MPA process and included stakeholders, policy makers and academics with expertise in MPA research. The results from the first round of the Delphi technique suggested that differing views of success would likely influence opinions regarding required management of MPAs, and in turn, the data requirements to support management action decisions. The second round of the Delphi technique explored this further and indicated that there was a fundamental dichotomy in panellists’ views of a successful MPA network depending upon whether they believed the MPAs should be strictly protected or allow for sustainable use. A third, focus group round of the Delphi Technique developed a feature-based management scenario matrix to aid in deciding upon management actions in light of changes occurring in the MPA network.

This thesis highlights that if the Scottish MPA network is to fulfil objectives of conservation and restoration, the implications of climate change for the design, management and monitoring of the network must be considered. In particular, there needs to be a greater focus on: i) incorporating ecological principles that directly address climate change ii) effective protection that builds resilience of the marine and linked social environment iii) developing a focused, strong and adaptable monitoring framework iv) ensuring mechanisms for adaptive management.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported and funded by Climate XChange with additional funding from MASTS Small Grant Scheme and Glasgow Natural History Society.
Keywords: climate change, conservation, marine protected areas, Scotland.
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Supervisor's Name: Bailey, Dr. David M.
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Miss Charlotte Hopkins
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7265
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 May 2016 16:06
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2019 12:41

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