Scaling up to form marine protected area networks: the role of coordination of initiatives and institutional collaborations in the Philippines

Horigue, Vera Christine (2014) Scaling up to form marine protected area networks: the role of coordination of initiatives and institutional collaborations in the Philippines. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Approaches to management of coastal resources have been evolving consistently over the past decades. Integrated and ecosystem-based approaches to management have been advocated increasingly to address continuous degradation of coastal and marine resources. Examples of these large-scale approaches are the establishment of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). Networks of MPAs are believed, and to some extent have been proven, to provide higher ecological, social, and economic benefits than small, isolated MPAs. In order to provide more benefits, MPA networks have to be well-designed and well-managed. However, designing networks with consideration of ecosystem function can be difficult in certain governance contexts, because ecological and governance scales are rarely congruent. MPA networks can be challenging to establish and implement, particularly in countries with high dependence on natural resources and small, numerous, and disparate governance units. These conditions reduce the acceptability of ecologically-sound network designs, because more local communities that are highly dependent on coastal resources will be affected. Moreover, the governance of networks becomes challenging with increasing numbers of involved governance units, because of the increasing diversity of social, economic, and political interests that complicates consensus-building and implementation of concerted management efforts.

The Philippines is widely-known for its extraordinary biodiversity, considerable dependence on marine resources, decentralized government system, and extensive implementation of locally-established MPAs. However, because of the continuous decline of ecosystems and native species, and the deficiencies of existing management initiatives, scaling up to form networks is increasingly being advocated. Scaling up is facilitated by collaborations of neighbouring local governments. These collaborations are believed to help improve MPA design and management through coordinated activities, and sharing of resources and experience. Using the Philippines as a case study, the goals of this thesis were to: 1. Understand how scaling up operates to form MPA networks; 2. Examine the benefits and challenges of scaling up; and, 3. Document lessons on how effectively scaled-up MPA networks can be governed.

To achieve these goals, I first described the scaling up framework used in the Philippines and the role of institutional collaborations when scaling up. In Chapter 2, I reviewed the history of MPAs and coastal management that led to the development of networks, and identified fundamental elements of successful collaborative partnerships. I found that there were 40 networks in the country with varying histories and objectives, and that most conservationists and researchers perceived that scaling up had the following advantages: 1) enhanced enforcement; 2) cost-effective management; 3) improved design and coordination of responses to threats; and 4) facilitated resolution of conflict among neighbouring communities and local governments. However, these experts also recognized the following challenges: 1) low technical capacity and high dependence on bridging organizations to help with MPA design; 2) lack of funding to sustain joint efforts; and 3) conflict arising from the lack of shared visions.

In Chapter 3, I examined the benefits and challenges of scaling up in terms of the design and expansion of MPA networks. In this chapter, I defined scaling up as the coordinated expansion of locally-motivated MPA initiatives facilitated by collaborations of local governments and their communities. I simulated future scenarios of MPA expansion and compared these scenarios in terms of achievement of objectives for habitat representation. I found that coordinated expansion was better than uncoordinated community-based establishment. Coordination improved planning through its broader perspective, inclusion of more ecological and social information, and ability to transcend boundaries by sharing municipal waters. However, I recognized that scaling up required considerable technical input that was beyond the capacity of most local governments. Moreover, scaling up would require local governments and communities to understand and accept that the immediate benefits and costs of MPAs will not be equitably distributed, and to arrange for these spatially-uneven costs and benefits to be redistributed in some way agreeable to the parties involved.

I then examined the benefits and challenges of scaling up in terms of improving MPA management in Chapter 4. I evaluated the management performance of networks and the extent to which networks enhance the management of individual MPAs. I did this with existing and newly-designed tools to assess management performance, key informant interviews, and community perception surveys. The methods I used provided descriptions of management performance relative to a variety of criteria, and explanations of the successes and bottlenecks in management. I found that networks and MPAs are inter-dependent. On one hand, well-managed MPAs have experienced managers and local governments that share lessons and experiences with network members. On the other hand, well-coordinated networks serve as platforms to convene these local governments and MPA managers to make decisions and share resources to help improve the MPAs.

Networks rely on the characteristics and interactions of people and social institutions. In Chapter 5, I evaluated the influence of governance context on participation, governance capacity, and management performance of networks. The contextual factors I examined included: network sizes (e.g. number of local governments), institutional arrangements (e.g. structure, objectives), and socioeconomic and political contexts. I did not find concrete evidence of the effect of sizes of the MPA networks on participation and governance capacity. Instead, institutional arrangements of these networks that stood out as positively influencing participation, capacity and performance, included: less complicated objectives, less demanding structures and interactions, more inclusive membership of representatives, and increased communication from network to community levels. Strong leadership combined with transparency, accountability, incentive systems, and participatory measures, contributed to increased participation, better coordination, and higher management performance.

The results of this thesis showed that scaling up local MPA initiatives through institutional collaborations is an effective approach to establishing MPA networks. In Chapter 6, I discuss the implications of scaling up and outline considerations to guide the development of MPA networks and promote their sustainability in areas with governance contexts similar to the Philippines. Although it makes sense to move from local-scale initiatives and promote "working together", we should be mindful of difficulties when prescribing scaled-up approaches. Institutional experimentation and "learning by doing" have provided examples of successful management interventions in the literature and in this study. However, key lessons learned from this thesis are that scaling up can entail large transaction costs when trying to organize and facilitate discussions among local governments, especially when the region has highly complex governance. We should aim to determine the feasibility of approaches to scaling up, identify ways to remove barriers to implementation, and consider the institutional capacity of local governments and communities, in order to increase the sustainability of MPA networks.

Item ID: 39883
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: biodiversity; coastal management; conservation; environmental policy; marine management; marine parks; marine protected areas; marine reserves; marine resources; MPA; natural resource management; networks; Philippines
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Published Thesis Chapters:

Chapter 2: Horigue, Vera, Aliño, Porfirio M., White, Alan T., and Pressey, Robert L. (2012) Marine protected area networks in the Philippines: trends and challenges for establishment and governance. Ocean & Coastal Management, 64. pp. 15-26.

Chapter 4: Horigue, Vera, Aliño, Porfirio M., and Pressey, Robert L. (2014) Evaluating management performance of marine protected area networks in the Philippines. Ocean & Coastal Management, 95. pp. 11-25.

Other Publications:

Weeks, Rebecca, Aliño, Porfirio M., Atkinson, Scott, Beldia II, Pacifico, Binson, Augustine, Campos, Wilfredo L., Djohani, Rili, Green, Alison L., Hamilton, Richard, Horigue, Vera, Jumin, Robecca, Kalim, Kay, Kasasiah, Ahsanal, Kereseka, Jimmy, Klein, Carissa, Laroya, Lynette, Magupin, Sikula, Masike, Barbara, Mohan, Candice, Da Silva Pinto, Rui Miguel, Vave-Karamui, Agnetha, Villanoy, Cesar, Welly, Marthen, and White, Alan T. (2014) Developing Marine Protected Area networks in the Coral Triangle: good practices for expanding the Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System. Coastal Management, 42 (2). pp. 183-205.

Weeks, R., Pressey, R.L., Wilson, J., Knight, M., Horigue, V., Abesamis, R., Acosta, R., Jompa, J. Best laid plans: [Ten] things to get right for marine conservation planning in the Coral Triangle. F1000 Research.

Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2015 23:55
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160507 Environment Policy @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960799 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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