MULTI-RESOLUTION CONSERVATION PLANNING: DESIGNING MARINE PROTECTED AREA NETWORKS LINKING INSHORE AND OFFSHORE ECOSYSTEMS
Erwann Lagabrielle, Mandy Lombard, Jean Harris and Tamsyn-Claire Livingstone
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Department of Botany, University of Cape Town, Department of Biological Sciences, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract
Inshore and offshore marine conservation plans are often developed independently. This approach ignores ecological connectivity among ecosystems, across scales, and is economically inefficient. Designing Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks linking inshore, continental shelf and offshore ecosystems requires a multi-scale understanding of marine ecosystems and human activities. To address this challenge, we developed a multi-resolution marine conservation planning approach and tested the method in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. Data on 400 marine items including habitats, species, processes and human activities were collected for the inshore, continental shelf and offshore regions. In areas with little data, surrogates were developed (such as benthic and pelagic bioregions, as well as habitat use models for many fishspecies). A spatially nested system of planning units, ranking in resolution from 0.2 km to 10 km, was designed to select priority areas for conservation. These priority areas included coastal, benthic and pelagic focal areas. Using MARXAN conservation planning software, the site prioritisation process undertook a selection from the coast to the offshore domain where more planning options are available. This approach reflects the multi-scale nature of marine ecosystem patterns and processes. It also allows the smooth integration of a continuum of data ranking in resolution from a metre (i.e. field observations) to a kilometre (i.e. global satellite images such as MODIS data). Our method is simple and replicable, and it contributes to better connect inshore and offshore conservation systems toward more resilient and efficient MPA networks.
Presentation Topic
MULTI-RESOLUTION CONSERVATION PLANNING: DESIGNING MARINE PROTECTED AREA NETWORKS LINKING INSHORE AND OFFSHORE ECOSYSTEMS

Contact Ms Lombard:
Email Mandy Lombard