A novel framework for analyzing conservation impacts: evaluation, theory, and marine protected areas

Mascia, Michael B., Fox, Helen E., Glew, Louise, Ahmadia, Gabby N., Agrawal, Arun, Barnes, Megan, Basurto, Xavier, Craigie, Ian, Darling, Emily, Geldmann, Jonas, Gill, David, Rice, Susie Holst, Jensen, Olaf P., Lester, Sarah E., McConney, Patrick, Mumby, Peter J., Nenadovic, Mateja, Parks, John E., Pomeroy, Robert S., and White, Alan T. (2017) A novel framework for analyzing conservation impacts: evaluation, theory, and marine protected areas. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1399 (1). pp. 93-115.

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Abstract

Environmental conservation initiatives, including marine protected areas (MPAs), have proliferated in recent decades. Designed to conserve marine biodiversity, many MPAs also seek to foster sustainable development. As is the case for many other environmental policies and programs, the impacts of MPAs are poorly understood. Social-ecological systems, impact evaluation, and common-pool resource governance are three complementary scientific frameworks for documenting and explaining the ecological and social impacts of conservation interventions. We review key components of these three frameworks and their implications for the study of conservation policy, program, and project outcomes. Using MPAs as an illustrative example, we then draw upon these three frameworks to describe an integrated approach for rigorous empirical documentation and causal explanation of conservation impacts. This integrated three-framework approach for impact evaluation of governance in social-ecological systems (3FIGS) accounts for alternative explanations, builds upon and advances social theory, and provides novel policy insights in ways that no single approach affords. Despite the inherent complexity of social-ecological systems and the difficulty of causal inference, the 3FIGS approach can dramatically advance our understanding of, and the evidentiary basis for, effective MPAs and other conservation initiatives.

Item ID: 50485
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1749-6632
Keywords: protected areas, impact evaluation, social-ecological systems, common-pool resources, governance, biodiversity conservation, ecological integrity, human well-being
Additional Information:

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Funders: National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, National Science Foundation (NSF), Luc Hoffmann Institute
Projects and Grants: NSF DBI-1052875
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 09:33
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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