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Title: Economic values, distributional impacts and conservation outcomes for coral reef marine protected areas
Author: Hargreaves-Allen, Venetia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 1667
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2010
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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are the dominant global strategy to counter widespread coral reef degradation, which threatens these coral reef ecosystems, the biodiversity they support, and the direct and indirect benefits they provision for millions of stakeholders, many of whom are in developing countries and have a high reliance on natural resources. Insufficient understanding of the conditions that enable MPAs to achieve their conservation and development goals means MPAs are yet to achieve their full potential. Similarly, inadequate awareness of the distributional aspects MPAs generate can leading to conflict and ultimately MPA failure. This research explores the links between two key themes of MPAs; efficiency and equity. A local case study in Belize is used to explore the ability of a MPA to provide a suite of benefits (net of costs) related to fishing, tourism, recreation and existence and bequest values in 2007. The values quantified demonstrate that the reserve represents an excellent return on conservation investment, particularly if non–user values are included. Survey effects associated with contingent valuation are found to be important and merit further research. Current entrance fees do capture much of the consumer surplus values which the reserve generates. Optimal fees are explored using the demand curve generated from the CVM. Non-use and local values, which are too rarely incorporated into MPA valuations are shown to be large, thus they are important to ensure well-informed decision making. A distributional analysis is undertaken, which quantifies transfers of wealth between stakeholders. This shows that incentives differ between stakeholders; where fishers, tour operators and international NGOs are incurring the direct costs. Contrary to what may be occurring elsewhere, the distribution of costs at local, national and international scales is found to be equivalent, although the benefits are highly skewed towards international stakeholders. Finally, I show that local community members, who will ultimately cause an MPA to fail or succeed, perceive costs and benefits fairly accurately. Thus the provision of local benefits is likely to improve MPA performance. A global coral reef MPA evaluation is undertaken, utilizing expert knowledge from MPAs in 33 countries. This constitutes the most comprehensive coral reef MPA performance evaluation to be carried out to date with a single methodology. MPA performance is shown to vary widely and to be unrelated to MPAs aims. Conclusions as to which are the most effective MPAs are also frequently altered, when incorporating temporal changes and spatial comparisons (assessing the counterfactual case). This dataset is also used to explore the extent to which different facets of success are coupled. I find that socio-economic and ecological benefits do not always occur concurrently and that a better appreciation of trade-offs is needed. The large variation in sample outcomes is used to explore drivers of success, including MPA features, management actions and contextual variables. MPA features such as size and zoning are found to support widespread hypotheses about the drivers of effectiveness. A non-linear temporal component of performance is identified, as are interactions between MPA features and outcomes. The provision of direct and indirect community benefits emerges as a crucial component of success. Frequently however, threats beyond the control of management and those inside the MPA which stem from inadequate resources are found to be undermining the effectiveness of coral reef MPAs.
Supervisor: Milner-Gulland, E. J. ; Mourato, Susana Sponsor: ESRC ; Natural Environmental Research Council ; Conservation Strategy Fund ; World Fish Centre
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral