Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the key tools used to achieve conservation, biodiversity and fisheries management objectives around the world. Increasingly though, conservation planners, MPA managers, researchers and local communities are calling for a more people-centred approach to MPA planning and management, recognising that long-term conservation and fisheries management objectives will not be realised unless human dimensions and societal concerns are adequately addressed.
To date, many MPAs have been established, planned and managed with little consideration of the human dimensions – social, cultural, economic, political and governance issues – and impact of the MPA on local communities. In order to address this challenge, WWF South Africa and the Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU) at the University of Cape Town, undertook a three year long project looking at how to integrate human and ecological dimensions in MPA governance.
Funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust and based on a number of Phd and Masters dissertations, the EEU have developed a comprehensive and collaborative set of guidelines which was finalised in March 2014 around MPA planning, titled ‘Integrating Human Dimensions into MPA Planning and Management’.
This project explores how MPAs can become more meaningful to society in terms of addressing social, economic and ecological objectives. It highlights the importance of considering issues such as human values, aspirations, lifestyles, cultural heritage, livelihoods, local economic activities and institutional arrangements in the development of MPAs and their management strategies. Provided in a short and long form, the guidelines are available for download and use by all.