WWF, an international conservation NGO, has published an information package designed to summarize in lay terms the scientific case for no-take marine reserves. Composed of a book, slide show, and overhead presentation, the “toolkit” is geared toward people who need to persuade others of the benefits of reserves. Its objective, as stated in the book’s preface, is to speed up the process of translating recent research into the creation of more reserves.

The toolkit, titled Fully-Protected Marine Reserves, was created by Callum Roberts and Julie Hawkins of the University of York (UK). They said the idea for the toolkit evolved from their research on reserves in developing countries.

“During this work we have come across many people working to set up reserves, and have been struck by the inadequacy of the background information they have access to,” said Roberts. “Most are using papers that are five or more years old. In such a fast-moving field, they are missing out on some of the most powerfully convincing case studies and theoretical advances. We wanted to put the most recent information directly in their hands.”

The toolkit’s book, Fully-Protected Marine Reserves: A Guide, cites more than 150 research papers, including dozens from the late 1990s and several that have not yet been published.

A work in progress

The toolkit aims not only to explain the theory behind no-take reserves but also to serve as a practical guide for planning and managing them. Its 131-page book features a question-and-answer format: each short chapter is designed to answer a question about the theory, planning, or management of reserves (e.g., “What is the evidence for recovery of animal populations in marine reserves?”; “How large should a marine reserve be?”; “How do you assess if reserves are effective?”).

The book also features 13 short case studies of noteworthy marine reserves around the world, with lessons learned from each. Said Hawkins of the importance of case studies, “When working to persuade local people that reserves are worth trying, it is the experience of others that really counts.”

The entire toolkit is available free of charge for downloading from the WWF website (see box at end of article).

Roberts and Hawkins describe the book as a work in progress — a living text that will be updated regularly on the website with new case studies and sections. They anticipate uploading five or so new case studies a year as they become available.

The toolkit’s slide and overhead presentations (with accompanying text) are also available on the website. These presentation materials, said Roberts, would help summarize the case for reserves in ways that could reach people who don’t have scientific backgrounds. “We felt a multimedia toolkit would help fieldworkers put the message out more effectively than a book alone,” he said.

Roberts and Hawkins said efforts to translate the book into French and Spanish are underway, and that the translations might be ready in the first half of 2001.

For more information on the toolkit’s content:

Callum Roberts and Julie Hawkins, Environment Department, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK. Tel: +44 1904 434066; E-mail: cr10@york.ac.uk.

Box: Toolkit Available for Free

The Fully-Protected Marine Reserves toolkit can be downloaded for free from the website of the WWF Endangered Seas Campaign: http://www.panda.org/resources/publications/water/mpreserves/

Also, hard copies of the toolkit — or the book alone — can be ordered free of charge from WWF Endangered Seas Campaign, 1250 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA. Hard copies, however, are in limited supply.