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Scientific Design of a Resilient Network of Marine Protected Areas

Wilson, Joanne; Darmawan, Arief; Subijanto, Johannes; Green, Alison; Sheppard, Stuart

Wilson, J., Darmawan, A., Subijanto. J., Green, A., and S. Sheppard. 2011. Scientific design of a resilient network of marine protected areas. Lesser Sunda Ecoregion, Coral Triangle. Asia Pacific Marine Program. Report 2/11. 96 pp.

The Lesser Sunda Ecoregion encompasses the chain of islands and surrounding waters from Bali, Indonesia to Timor-Leste and is one of the 11 ecoregions of the Coral Triangle. This region is of outstanding marine conservation value for its shallow coastal habitats, including coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass, as well as for endangered turtles and cetaceans. Coastal reefs and associated ecosystems of the Lesser Sunda Ecoregion have long been threatened by destructive fishing, overfishing, pollution and coastal development. They are now also threatened by climate change impacts including increased sea temperatures, sea level rise, extreme weather and ocean acidification.

Creating networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) is a key strategy to increase the ‘resilience’ of these ecosystems to climate change impacts by identifying and protecting areas that appear to be the most resilient to climate change; and reducing stresses caused by other anthropogenic threats. Here we have applied and refined principles for designing and managing resilient MPA networks, which have been developed and applied by TNC and partners in other parts of the world.

This document describes the process to develop a scientific design of a resilient network of MPAs for the Lesser Sunda Ecoregion, based on a detailed scientific assessment and an extensive stakeholder consultation process. This process included developing a GIS database of best available information, identifying key conservation features, threats and uses of the area, applying state of the art conservation planning tools and facilitating input from relevant government agencies, local  stakeholders and scientific experts though a series of workshops and meetings.