132 municipalities surveyed
132 municipalities surveyed

Last week I was in the Philippines, trying to understand what motivates collaboration between local governments on coastal resource management.

The Philippines is recognised as leading the way in “scaling up” from locally managed marine protected areas (MPAs) to MPA networks. Responsibility for managing coastal resources (and designating MPAs) is devolved to local municipalities, many of which have formed “alliances” for coastal resource management – they exchange information, coordinate training workshops and MPA monitoring, conduct joint enforcement patrols, and sometimes even establish trans-boundary MPAs.

Vera talking with our research assistants
Vera talking with our research assistants

My colleagues (at JCU, University of the Philippines and University of Melbourne) and I want to know whether this “scaling up” is sufficient to address the problem of social-ecological fit – that is, mismatches that arise between the spatial scale at which ecological systems operate, and of governance institutions tasked with managing them. Management of common pool and interconnected ecological resources (i.e. populations of reef-associated fishes that are connected by larval dispersal) is a significant challenge for local resource managers to overcome.

Over the past three months, our wonderful research assistants Abner, Fra’and, Jerimiah, and Roxie travelled around the Bohol Sea to interview coastal resource managers in 132 municipalities, asking who they collaborate with, the nature of those collaborative activities, and what they perceive to be the benefits and barriers to coastal resource management collaboration.

Slow progress encoding all the data!
Slow progress encoding all the data!

I’ve discovered that social network analysis on this scale can be very frustrating, because it’s impossible to see what the data look like until it has all been collected. Now that we’ve collected, entered, and coded ALL the data, patterns are finally starting to emerge, which is really exciting!

My next job is to analyse these social networks, to try and understand what factors might explain the patterns of collaboration that we have observed – for example, attributes of the actors (i.e. the municipalities) involved, their position geographically or within the network. Later this year we plan to compare the structure of these social networks to that of ecological connectivity networks derived from models of larval dispersal, to assess the level of social-ecological fit in this system.

Stay tuned for further updates at the project progresses!

The network emerging...
The network emerging…

Related publications:

Horigue, V., Fabinyi, M., Pressey, R.L., Foale, S. & Aliño, P.M. (2016) Influence of Governance Context on the Management Performance of Marine Protected Area Networks. Coastal Management, 44, 71–91.

Abesamis, R.A., Stockwell, B.L., Lawrence P.C. Bernardo, Villanoy, C.L. & Russ, G.R. (2016) Predicting reef fish connectivity from biogeographic patterns and larval dispersal modelling to inform the development of marine reserve networks. Ecological Indicators, 66, 534–544.

Treml, E.A., Fidelman, P.I.J., Kininmonth, S., Ekstrom, J.A. & Bodin, O. (2015) Analyzing the (mis)fit between the institutional and ecological networks of the Indo-West Pacific. Global Environmental Change-Human and Policy Dimensions, 31, 263–271.

Horigue, V., Pressey, R.L., Mills, M., Brotánková, J., Cabral, R. & Andréfouët, S. (2015) Benefits and Challenges of Scaling Up Expansion of Marine Protected Area Networks in the Verde Island Passage, Central Philippines. PLoS ONE, 10, e0135789.

Horigue, V., Aliño, P.M. & Pressey, R.L. (2014) Marine protected area networks in the Philippines: Trends and challenges for establishment and governance. Ocean & Coastal Management. OCMA, 95, 11–25.

Horigue, V., Aliño, P.M., White, A.T. & Pressey, R.L. (2012) Marine protected area networks in the Philippines: Trends and challenges for establishment and governance. Ocean & Coastal Management, 64, 15–26.

Weeks, R., Russ, G.R., Alcala, A.C. & White, A.T. (2010) Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas in the Philippines for Biodiversity Conservation. Conservation Biology, 24, 531–540.

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