“MPA Tip” is a recurring feature that presents advice on MPA planning and management gathered from various publications. The advice below, from Heidi Schuttenberg, appeared in the December 2006 edition of MPA News, which featured insights from practitioners on managing MPAs in an era of climate change. Schuttenberg is co-author, with Paul Marshall, of A Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching, available atwww.coris.noaa.gov/activities/reef_managers_guide.
Tip: Managing for ecological and social resilience recognizes that a process of uncertain change is underway, and aims to support the ability of the environment and dependent human communities to absorb shocks, regenerate, and reorganize so as to maintain key functions and processes. Rather than having a goal of maintaining circumstances as they are today, managing for resilience emphasizes protecting the factors that allow recovery after disturbance events. Additionally, this strategy recognizes that the future may be determined by unexpected changes, and it values the ability to be responsive to surprises.
On the social side, actions can be taken to support the human communities that depend on marine environments, such as fishers and tourism operators. Changes in resource condition are likely to cause changes in resource use patterns. Engaging with stakeholders during this reorganization will allow managers to build alliances, knowledge, and influence that can assist in effectively adapting management regimes to the new circumstances. Managers and resource users may wish to develop a climate change action plan that could include strategies for supporting ecological resilience, diversifying economic activities, enhancing human resource skills, making investments in capital and technology, or reworking related government policies. As climate change makes life less predictable, such cooperative, adaptive approaches may be essential to achieving responsive, effective MPA planning and management.