Conservation status, research, and knowledge of seagrass habitats in World Heritage properties

Losciale, Riccardo, Day, Jon, and Heron, Scott (2022) Conservation status, research, and knowledge of seagrass habitats in World Heritage properties. Conservation Science and Practice, 4 (12). e12830.

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Climate change is increasingly threatening World Heritage (WH) properties and their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Climate change impacts the attributes that collectively contribute to the OUV; these attributes can be natural (e.g., seagrass) or cultural (e.g., monuments). A recent UNESCO report showed that seagrass habitats within WH properties are estimated to hold 25% of the global seagrass blue carbon asset. Globally, seagrass habitats provide a wide range of benefits to adjacent ecosystems and coastal human communities, yet they have been declining due to direct anthropogenic and climate change stressors. However, the UNESCO report did not provide any information about the relative importance of the attribute “seagrass habitats” toward the OUV and associated communities of WH properties, nor about their conservation status. This study builds upon this previous work by assessing the relative importance of seagrass habitats toward the values of WH properties and by reviewing the current knowledge about the conservation status, threats, monitoring, and management of seagrass habitats within WH properties. Seagrass was identified as an attribute of Very High or High importance to 9 of 28 WH properties. Through analysis of UNESCO documents and scientific literature, we highlight the lack of research, monitoring, and management instruments addressing the protection of seagrass from climate change impacts within these 28 WH properties. Notably, climate change threats to WH seagrass habitats are poorly addressed within WH documentation. The insufficient analysis and reporting of climate impacts on seagrass within WH properties point to an underestimation of the value of this marine ecosystem broadly.

Item ID: 77573
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2578-4854
Keywords: climate change, environmental management, marine protected area, monitoring, State of Conservation, UNESCO
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Authors. Conservation Science and Practice published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2023 01:22
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180507 Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments @ 100%
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