This learning exchange consisted of two parts: A pre-International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) workshop with 24 participants that focused on solving problems around MPA network design and implementation and a half-day symposium with 120 attendees. This symposium included a presentation of resilience science and application of advances to management decisions.
The second in a series of Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops included 17 managers from 12 countries and territories in the Western Pacific islands. This two-part course consisted of an intensive, four-month online course that was mentored by global and regional experts on various course topics. Participants had weekly assignments and engaged in virtual discussions to further enhance their learning experience. This was followed by a week-long, in-person workshop to build skills in facilitation, communication, and resilient marine protected area design. Participants left the workshop with specific training action plans.
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Ecosystem-based management is a useful management tool that considers both indirect and cumulative effects of added stressors to a system. Ecosystem models, especially those that consider physical and biological disturbances and human uses, can help to inform ecosystem-based management during planning and implementation stages. This study modified the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to quantify and predict the effect of added stressors on the Guam coral reef ecosystem. Specifically, the study focused on three main stressors: climate change, land-based sources of pollution (LBSP), and fishing. The study used the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report highest emission scenario to predict atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the RCP8.5 projection to predict sea surface temperatures. LBSP was predicted using previous data collected on Guam’s sediment and nutrient loads and river flow. Fishing predictions were based on historical catches. Short term (i.e. 30 years) and long term (i.e. 65 years) simulation tests were run for each stressor.
The short term tests revealed that fishing resulted in the greatest negative impacts with LBSP following close behind. Climate change became the dominant stressor in longer time scales with the bleaching threshold exceeded every year after year 48. It becomes clear that long-term high intensity disturbances from multiple stressors limits and sometimes even prevents ecosystem recovery. Limiting frequency, intensity, and number of stressors can significantly increase reef resilience. This study revealed that reducing LBSP and increasing water quality can delay climate-related impacts for up to 8 years while buying time for the corals to adapt to higher temperatures. The Atlantis Ecosystem Model and others like it can be used to provide a wealth of knowledge to inform ecosystem-based management decisions on both regional and global levels.
Author: Weijerman M., E.A. Fulton, I.C. Kaplan, R. Gorton, R. Leemans, W.M. Mooij, and R.E. Brainard
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PLoS ONE 10(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144165
Participatory 3D Modeling (P3DM) to Support Climate Preparedness and Response in the Pacific
Boe Boe, Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands; Ona Keto, Eastern Highlands and Manus, Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islanders are on the front lines of climate change, experiencing rising sea levels, intrusion of saltwater into freshwater supplies, changing rainfall and weather patterns, extreme weather events, and increasing sea temperatures. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working with governments, communities, and other partners in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and across the Pacific, to build social and ecological resilience to climate change by assessing vulnerability and bolstering climate preparedness through improved community planning and management.
Participatory 3D Modeling (P3DM) is a community-based mapping method which brings together local knowledge with elevation data to produce an accurate scale model of lands and waters. Community members integrate local spatial knowledge, land use and cover, and other features on a three dimensional model using pushpins (points), yarns (lines) and paints (polygons). On completion, data depicted on the model are extracted, digitized and plotted (e.g., in GIS) and the model remains with the community. The models are used to help communities to visualize, discuss, and prepare for threats that affect their water, food, income, and other community services.
- Three communities (Manus and Ona Keto in Papua New Guinea and Boe Boe village in the Solomon Islands) created Participatory 3D models to explore the impacts of climate change and potential responses with Geographic Information System (GIS) support from TNC and partners
- Villagers cut and pasted cardboard to make a relief map of their island; they mapped the community’s crucial infrastructure and resources (e.g., groundwater supplies, schools, clinics, agriculture, rivers, protected forests or reefs, crocodile nesting sites) to visualize what may be threatened by climate change and to inform adaptation options
- University of Wollongong researchers created a digital animation showing projections of king-tides and sea-level rise
- Community discussed impacts of climate change and adaptation responses using the 3D model
How successful has it been?
- The development of the Participatory 3D models increased the knowledge of community members regarding the impacts of climate change on their village and strategies for how they can protect themselves
- Villagers visualized how coasts were vulnerable, spurring dialogue about how to best plan for unsustainable land use practices, changing weather patterns, sea-level rise, and tsunami risk (e.g., loss of gardens to saltwater would mean paddling an extra hour or more each day, just to gather food)
- Local knowledge about the forest and marine resources and traditional land boundaries and sacred sites was identified and community elders are recognizing the importance of passing that knowledge to the younger generation. The process has generated excellent discussions between the different generations from each tribal area and enabled important stories and places and oral history to be captured
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
- Mapping is essential to support management planning for marine and terrestrial resources – Without a map, it’s impossible to visualize the state of resources, which is key to guiding the region toward sustainability and establishing best practices that will ensure the long-term health of local resources
- When communities build a scale model of their region—it reveals not just natural landmarks but how people relate to the environment as well
- The process takes time and commitment. In Manus, the workshop was supposed to last for 10 days, ended up taking 2 weeks. Villagers worked nights and weekends to complete the map
- By leaving the map in the community, it shifts the ownership of the information to the communities themselves rather than outsiders
- Climate change vulnerability mapping efforts are laying the groundwork for nature-based solutions to be mainstreamed into local, regional and national development planning
- Lessons from participatory community planning will be transferable to climate and hazard preparedness here and in other Small Island Developing States around the globe
- This project reinforced the importance of letting local people take the lead – According to Trish Kas, TNC’s Development Manager in Papua New Guinea, “by facilitating community efforts and helping them to gather traditional knowledge, we can complement their conservation projects with our science and planning expertise, but the impetus for our involvement has to come from them.”
The Nature Conservancy
Partners with Melanesians as well as provincial governments and tribal networks
Can you believe it? A decade ago, TNC – with the support of partners AROUND THE WORLD– launched the Reef Resilience Network, creating what would grow to become a global network of resource managers sharing ideas, experiences, and expertise to effectively manage our coral reefs and reef fisheries. Curious to see what ten years can do for managers and reefs? Take a look below and here!
Special thanks to NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and International Union for Conservation of Nature, whose committed support to the Network has helped managers innovate, accelerate, and leverage solutions for improved global coral reef health and restoration of reef fisheries.
Managing exposure of corals to oxybenzone, a common ingredient found in sunscreen lotions, is critical for managing for coral reef resilience. A new study found that coral planulae exposed to oxybenzone became deformed and sessile, and had an increased rate of bleaching which increased with increasing concentrations, affecting coral recruitment and juvenile survival. Because oxybenzone is a photoxicant, high light levels at or near the surface of the water where planulae of broadcasting species spend 2-4 days before settling may place them at higher risk than was seen in this laboratory study. Water samples were also collected in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii to determine oxybenzone concentrations occurring around swimming beaches. In this study, cell death was seen in seven Indo-Pacific and Caribbean coral species at concentrations similar to the water samples taken. Caribbean species sensitivity to oxybenzone was similar to the model of coral tolerance to other stressors (Gates and Edmunds 1999)—boulder corals and other slow growing species have a higher level of tolerance to stressors. For management, the data from this study can help predict changes to coral reef community structure in places with significant oxybenzone exposure and can be integrated into reef resilience management plans.
Author: Downs, C. A., E. Kramarsky-Winter, R. Segal, J. Fauth, S. Knutson, O. Bronstein, F.R. Ciner, R. Jeger, Y. Lichtenfeld, C.M. Woodley, P. Pennington, K. Cadenas, A. Kushmaro, and Y. Loya
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Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7
In a new article published today in the world’s leading academic journal, Science, Mark Spalding, Senior Marine Scientist for The Nature Conservancy looks at the broad issues surrounding the current situation of coral reefs and highlights points of hope.
“There is growing concern around coral reefs,” said Spalding. “For decades they have had to survive a growing array of human threats and now climate change has added to this. It’s the new threat on the block and it’s a deep worry, but it is too early to proclaim the end of reefs.”
Many corals are showing some degree of adaptive capacity to both warming and to acidification, more than some scientists were expecting. Spalding notes that such adaptive capacity, alongside the natural resilience of reefs can enable them to recover even from quite severe perturbations. For example, most reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Seychelles, which lost virturally all their coral in 1998 due to warm-water induced coral “bleaching”, showed good recovery within a decade. Read more.