Evaluation of management effectiveness of a marine protected area: a case study for Socotra Island, Yemen

Al-Agwan, Zaher Abdo Ali (2015) Evaluation of management effectiveness of a marine protected area: a case study for Socotra Island, Yemen. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can bring multiple benefits to people and communities, such as increased income from tourism development, and associated benefits from protecting the marine environment. However, the ability of MPAs to conserve marine biodiversity can be constrained, especially when they are poorly planned and the consequences of establishing these areas are not well considered. The establishment of MPAs may have inadvertent consequences such as increased poverty, social tension, conflicts and power struggles in managing these areas when posing new restrictions on resource use. Therefore, it is important to understand whether establishing an MPA has negative consequences or positive benefits to the marine biodiversity and communities living adjacent to the protected area. More importantly, there is a need to improve MPA management because many are not meeting their objectives, including marine biodiversity protection objectives. There is international interest in understanding why MPAs do and don't work and therefore improving their ability to protect natural and cultural diversity. Assessing the success of MPAs requires developing indicators and undertaking evaluative approaches.

A series of indicators, linked to specific criteria, are generally used to assess the management effectiveness of Protected Areas (PAs), including MPAs. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) developed an evaluation framework for assessing management effectiveness of these areas. This framework includes multiple criteria which relate to six management elements (Context, Planning, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Outcomes). Many methods, including the World Bank (WB) Scorecard Tool, have been developed to assess management effectiveness of MPAs using indicators against criteria in relation to these elements. However, there is no internationally accepted method for such assessment. Researchers have recommended developing and combining several developed approaches as a comprehensive method to assess the effectiveness of MPAs. Developing approaches for such an assessment is still in the early stages. Consequently, there is a need to design a mixed-approach method if researchers are to progress with assessing the management effectiveness evaluation of MPAs.

My PhD study aimed to design a comprehensive method for evaluating MPA effectiveness, including a broader community survey than has been typically conducted, to assess MPAs and to test this method on the Socotra Island MPA in Yemen. Meeting this overarching aim necessitated different approaches, including: (1) adapting indicators and modifying the scoring system that were used in the WB Scorecard Tool, (2) adapting criteria in relation to the six elements addressed in the IUCN-WCPA Evaluation Framework, and (3) developing indicators in relation to an additional element (Priorities). Community awareness and stakeholder satisfactions are two broad criteria used in the WB Scorecard Tool to help assess management effectiveness of an MPA. This tool used one indicator in relation to each of these two broad criteria. In contrast, I used several indicators in relation to the community awareness and stakeholder satisfaction to help assess the management effectiveness of the MPA. In addition, the WB Scorecard Tool does not include community preferences, as a criterion, to help assess the management effectiveness of an MPA. To date, this criterion is not identified as a measure to assess management effectiveness of MPAs in the literature. Aligning community preferences for improving MPA management with a government's priorities was used as a new approach I developed in relation to the element 'Priorities' to assess the management effectiveness of the MPA.

In this thesis I used two broad approaches to assess the management effectiveness of the MPA. These two approaches were a literature review and a survey of community members. The literature review involved collecting qualitative and quantitative information from available governmental documents, including plans, project progress reports and published papers relating to the MPA management. I also visited the office of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on Socotra Island, which is the Management Authority (MA) for the MPA, to collect secondary data by approaching the senior staff of the MA to update what I found in the literature in relation to the MPA. Socotra Island has an area of 3625 km² with two towns only and about 60 coastal villages. The community survey on this island included Socotrans (n=414) and Yemeni Non-Socotrans (n= 66) living on Socotra Island. The survey was based on a structured questionnaire. Respondents were identified as fitting within 1 of 23 community subgroups, which included Local Council Officials, Fishers and Housewives, at the beginning of each interview and then grouped within 4 key stakeholder groups (Socotran Decision Maker Group, Socotran Primary User Group, Socotran Secondary User Group and Yemeni Non-Socotran Secondary User Group) for analysis purposes. The community survey was conducted in April– May 2011 at 30 coastal locations (2 towns and 28 villages), including remote areas, along most of the coastline of Socotra Island.

Seventy-two indicators were used to assess the management effectiveness of the Socotra Island MPA via a literature review and comprehensive community survey in relation to the seven elements mentioned above. These indicators were represented as questions (For example: 'Does the MPA have a legal status?' and 'Are the local community satisfied with the current zoning plan of the MPA?'). Forty-three indicators were used to measure activities conducted by the MA for the MPA management. Twenty-nine indicators were used to explore the community's awareness of several management criteria; participation in management-related activities; satisfaction with many management criteria; and preferences for improving the MPA management.

My results showed statistically significant differences in some responses within and between the four key stakeholder groups. For example, more respondents from the Socotran Decision Maker Group participated in MPA management-related activities than those from the other three key stakeholder groups. More respondents from the Socotran User Group were satisfied with the overall management of the MPA than those from the Yemeni Non-Socotran Secondary User Group. More respondents from the Socotran Primary User Group preferred services available for the locals/fishers than those from the other stakeholder groups.

I found that the managers of the Socotra Island MPA faced five major difficulties for managing the MPA effectively. First, the MA lacked a sufficient budget and did not have a management plan. Second, the MA did not have strong enforcement power with regard to managing increased threats on natural resources. Third, the MPA was not providing obvious flow on benefits to the local communities. Fourth, the majority of the local community was not satisfied with the MPA management. Fifth, the local community's preferences for improving this management were not aligned with the Yemeni government's priorities.

My PhD study showed some differences between results obtained via the literature review and those via the community survey. My study revealed that the MA conducted a large awareness-raising program and involved a wide array of stakeholders in management-related activities prior to the establishment of the MPA. Despite this, I found that the local community's awareness of the MPA was low and stakeholders' participation in these activities was limited.

My assessment results also varied when they were assessed in terms of the different approaches I used in this PhD study. I assessed the effectiveness of management of the MPA as 'Moderate' in terms of the activities conducted by the MA and community's satisfaction with the MPA management. In contrast, effectiveness was assessed as 'Low' in terms of the community's awareness of the MPA, their participation in management-related activities and aligning their preferences for improving MPA management with the Yemeni government's priorities. Overall, the effectiveness of the MPA management was assessed as 'Moderate', meaning it was inadequate.

The results from my thesis indicate that the ability of the MPA to meet the ecological and socioeconomic objectives addressed in its conservation zoning plan is weak, though the Yemeni government played a significant role in developing the legal status of this area. Based on the findings, I propose multiple recommendations, such as allocating and securing a sufficient operational budget, in this PhD thesis to improve management of the MPA and achieve these objectives. Considering the results and recommendations in this thesis could increase the management effectiveness of the MPA.

The mixed-approach method I designed in this PhD thesis considering and combining several approaches was a valuable evaluation strategy because it provided a thorough understanding of how effectively the MPA was managed. Although this method was costly and time consuming, the final outcome was considered worthwhile, contributing to progress in the evaluation of management effectiveness of MPAs globally. My thesis provides a step towards understanding how a comprehensive community survey can be complementary to the activities conducted by a MA in assessing management effectiveness of an MPA, by providing approaches which are recommended to be adapted for this assessment. The future quality of these approaches could be improved by considering the areas of research, including investigation of correlations between community attitudes and education levels, addressed in this thesis.

Item ID: 43669
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: accessing; assessment; community surveys; evaluating; evaluation; management effectiveness; marine conservation; marine protected areas; measurement; measuring; MPAs; Socotra Island; Yemen
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2016 03:54
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 34%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960699 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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