Measuring what matters – Identifying indicators of success for Brazilian marine protected areas
The large increase in number and extent of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) over the last few decades has been an important step towards the conservation of marine environments. However, it is not clear whether these important conservation tools are effectively managed, especially in the developing world where resources are limited and there are frequent conflicts with traditional resource users. An innovative approach was used to identify the most important governance, socioeconomic and biophysical variables that are associated with the management effectiveness of Brazilian MPAs. Management effectiveness data was extracted from Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Areas Management (RAPPAM), applied by World Wildlife Fund-Brazil in 2005 and 2010. This comprehensive dataset was summarized in a single management effectiveness metric and related to a set of 15 explanatory variables using generalized linear models (GLMs). An innovative multi-model averaging approach was employed to identify the most important variables relating to management effectiveness. As a result, five main indicators showed high influence on management effectiveness: 1) higher levels of monitoring/research; 2) higher investment; 3) greater human resources; 4) greater social participation, and; 5) lower levels of conflicts between users and managers. managerial effectiveness of Brazilian MPAs could be significantly improved by adopting an indicator based approach to management prioritization. Specifically, MPA managers should dedicate special attention to the highlighted factors when choosing how to allocate available resources in order to boost the overall effectiveness of their protected area.