Georgina Gurney recently received a Virginia Chadwick Award for her paper on how marine protected areas (MPAs) affect human wellbeing, which is published in Global Environmental Change. The Virginia Chadwick Awards are awarded each year to five ARC Centre of Excellence graduate students for the most outstanding publications in peer-reviewed international journals.

Georgina’s paper examined the short-, medium- and long-term impacts of MPAs that were specifically designed to achieve the dual goals of conservation and poverty alleviation, on three key domains of poverty (security, opportunity and empowerment) in eight villages in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Using social data for villages with and without MPAs from pre-, mid- and post-the five-year implementation period of the MPAs, she found that the integrated MPAs appeared to contribute to poverty alleviation. Positive impacts spanned all three poverty domains, but within each domain the magnitude of the effects and timescales over which they manifested were mixed. Importantly, positive impacts appeared to occur mostly during the implementation period, after which integrated MPA activities all but ceased and reductions in poverty did not continue to accrue. This finding questions the efficiency of the short-term approach taken in many international donor-assisted protected area projects that integrate development and conservation, which are often designed with the expectation that project activities will be sustained and related benefits will continue to accumulate after external support is terminated.

Gurney, G.G., J. Cinner, N. Ban, R. Pressey, R. Pollnac, S. Campbell, S. Tasidjawa and F. Setiawan. 2014. Poverty and protected areas: An evaluation of a marine integrated conservaiton and development project in Indonesia. Global Environmental Change 26: 98-107. The final accepted version of the manuscript is freely available here.

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