Principles of Resilience
Increased intensity and frequency of mass coral bleaching requires us to respond with innovative new strategies to build resilience into MPAs. Building coral reef survivability based on patterns of resistance and resilience into MPA management strategies is a relatively new concept.
Until recently, resilience1 had never been explicitly defined or listed as a criterion for MPA selection or MPA design, nor had it been factored into large-scale ecoregional planning. Yet the concept of resilience demonstrates that there are positive actions we can take to counter potentially devastating impacts of climate-related bleaching.
The Nature Conservancy developed a Resilience Model to help frame resilience in an easily understandable way. This model has evolved over time and continues to be refined. It is important to understand that this is a conceptual model, designed to emphasize the key aspects of managing for resilience, but does not guarantee resilience if all principles are addressed. Every situation is unique and it may not be possible to address each and every principle at a site. The principles of resilience are briefly explained below and in more detail in subsequent sections.
Principle 1: Representation and Replication (and risk-spreading) can help increase likelihood of reef survival. By ensuring that resilient species and habitats are well represented and replicated throughout an MPA network, coral reef managers can decrease risk of catastrophic events, like bleaching, from destroying entire reef ecosystems.
Principle 2: Critical Areas are vital to survival and sustainability of marine habitats. These areas may provide secure and essential sources of larvae to enhance replenishment and recovery of reefs damaged by bleaching, hurricanes or other events. They also include high-priority conservation targets, such as fish spawning aggregations and nursery habitats.
Principle 3: Connectivity influences the design of marine protected area networks. Preserving connectivity among reefs and their associated habitats ensures replenishment of coral communities and fish stocks from nearby healthy reefs, and may enhance recovery.
Principle 4: Effective Management is essential to meeting goals and objectives of an MPA, and ultimately keeping reefs vibrant and healthy. Reducing threats is the foundation for successful conservation and the core of our resilience-based strategies. Measuring effective management provides the foundation for adaptive management. Investments in human capacity and long-term financing are also crucial to sustaining effective management for the future.