Assessing the impact of coral reef community management in the Kingdom of Tonga

Smallhorn-West, Patrick (2020) Assessing the impact of coral reef community management in the Kingdom of Tonga. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

PDF (Thesis)
Download (10MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


In recent decades, local approaches to marine management have become increasingly popular as a tool to mitigate stressors on coral reefs. However, assessing the efficacy of local management involves being able to determine its impact, or the difference it makes over the counterfactual condition of no management. This thesis uses Tonga's Special Management Area (SMA) program as a case study to understand the ecological impacts of community-based marine management on coral reef social-ecological systems. First, Smallhorn-West provides a detailed description of Tonga's coral reef social-ecological system by: i) building an extensive socio-environmental spatial data set for Tonga's coral reefs from various global layers and the 2016 national census; ii) completing the first national coral reef status report for Tonga consisting of ecological surveys at 370 sites throughout the country, and iii) synthesizing the current status and future prospects of Tonga's SMA program. This information is then used to i) look back to conduct an impact evaluation of all existing management areas in Tonga and ii) look ahead to predict the potential future impacts of various new management configurations. Here, Smallhorn-West shows that Tonga's approach to local marine management has yielded positive impacts to natural resource management and biodiversity conservation, and has been able to avoid issues that plague many marine protected areas.

Item ID: 65496
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Tonga, coral reefs, coral reef management, community-based marine management, local marine management, Special Management Area (SMA), coral reef social-ecological systems, coral reef status, ecological surveys, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, marine protected areas
Related URLs:
Copyright Information: © 2020 Patrick Smallhorn-West.
Additional Information:

For this thesis, Patrick Smallhorn-West received the Dean's Award for Excellence 2021.

Five publications arising from this thesis are stored in ResearchOnline@JCU, at the time of processing. Please see the Related URLs. The publications are:

[Chapter 2] Smallhorn-West, Patrick F., Weeks, Rebecca, Gurney, Georgina, and Pressey, Robert L. (2020) Ecological and socioeconomic impacts of marine protected areas in the South Pacific: assessing the evidence base. Biodiversity and Conservation, 29 (2). pp. 349-380.

[Chapter 3] Smallhorn-West, Patrick F., Gordon, Sophie E., Dempsey, Alexandra C., Purkis, Sam J., Malimali, Siola'a, Halafihi, Tu'ikolongahau, Southgate, Paul C., Bridge, Tom C. L., Pressey, Robert L., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2020) Tongan socio-environmental spatial layers for marine ecosystem management. Pacific Conservation Biology. (In Press)

[Chapter 6] Smallhorn-West, Patrick F., Stone, Karen, Ceccarelli, Daniela M., Malimali, Siola'a, Halafihi, Tu'ikolongahau, Bridge, Tom C. L., Pressey, Robert L., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2020) Community management yields positive impacts for coastal fisheries resources and biodiversity conservation. Conservation Letters, 13. e12755.

[Appendix 1] Smallhorn-West, Patrick, and Govan, Hugh (2018) Towards reducing misrepresentation of national achievements in marine protected area targets. Marine Policy, 97. pp. 127-129.

[Appendix 2] Smallhorn-West, Patrick, Garvin, J.B., Slayback, D.A., DeCarlo, T.M., Gordon, S.E., Fitzgerald, S.H., Halafihi, T., Jones, G.P., and Bridge, T.C.L. (2020) Coral reef annihilation, persistence and recovery at Earth's youngest volcanic island. Coral Reefs, 39. pp. 529-536.

The following two publications are available online. Please see the Related URLs.

[Appendix 3] Smallhorn-West P (2020) Progress towards conserving Tonga’s coral reefs. SPC Fisheries newsletter #160.

[Appendix 4] Smallhorn-West P, Sheehan J, Stone K, Malimali S, Halafihi H, Matoto L, Rodriguez-Troncoso A, Bridge T, Pressey B, Jones G (2020) Kingdom of Tonga Special Management Area Report 2020.

Funders: National Geographic Society
Projects and Grants: National Geographic Society Grant (CP-137ER-17)
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2021 02:53
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 281
Last 12 Months: 45
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page