Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 13.47.38The groundwork for the paper was undertaken by lead author Hans Wendt, whilst he was undertaking his Masters degree at the University of the South Pacific. At the time, I was working for WCS Fiji, and provided Hans with guidance on systematic conservation planning. He took this and did some amazing work with communities in his home province of Kadavu, which resulted in the establishment of 14 new MPAs!

Hans has since graduated, and now works for IUCN Oceania in Fiji.

I love this paper because it provides a uniquely Melanesian perspective of the strengths and weaknesses of systematic conservation planning. A couple of highlights for me:

Conservation planning tools such as Marxan CAN be used ‘offline’ with local communities BUT at the local scale the real value of planning was in the process of identifying and conceptualising the management issue, working with communities to collate data through participatory techniques, and engaging communities in management decision-making, not outputs from decision-support tools.

Whilst trans-boundary protected areas have been proposed as a means to scale-up local management to overcome social-ecological scale mismatches, communities in Fiji were strongly opposed to the idea of merged, jointly-managed MPAs, which would not allow for clear ownership and responsibility for management.

The paper is currently “online early” in Pacific Conservation Biology and will appear in a Special Issue entitled “Conservation Oceania Style: highlighting Oceania’s unique approaches to conservation biology and on ground outcomes”. There are some other great papers in the special issue, including this one from Nathan Whitmore, John Lamaris & colleagues, on terrestrial “tabu” areas in Papua New Guinea.

Wendt, H.K., Weeks, R., Comley, J. & Aalbersberg, W. (2016) Systematic conservation planning within a Fijian customary governance context. Pacific Conservation Biology.

– Rebecca

hans_wendt_138318Left: Hans.

Above: community members in Kadavu using outputs from a systematic conservation planning analysis to inform the design of a network of locally managed marine areas. © Hans Wendt.

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