New guidebook: Planning alternative livelihoods in context of biodiversity conservation

By adopting a focused strategy for small business development, conservation planners can help local communities participate actively in sustainable management of nearby ecosystems and biodiversity, according to a new publication from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Local Business for Global Biodiversity Conservation: Improving the Design of Small Business Development Strategies in Biodiversity Projects is a guidebook for planning viable, alternative livelihoods to reduce threats to local natural resources.

“Although biodiversity-related small businesses are often proposed as tools for ensuring the sustainability of conservation interventions, evidence of this occurring is limited,” write authors Andrew Bovarnick and Ajay Gupta. The ability of businesses to deliver conservation benefits, they say, is dependent on many variables, including standard business challenges like marketplace volatility, product competition, and high debt-burden of startups. In addition, alternative livelihoods can cause adverse effects on biodiversity if not well managed.

By walking readers through a series of assessments, the guidebook helps planners determine whether and how a business development strategy should be pursued, including the most suitable types of products or services to develop. Although tailored for biodiversity projects supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by UNDP, the guidebook may be applied by conservation planners, policymakers, and practitioners across governments, donors, NGOs, and the private sector. The 76-page publication is available in PDF format at To order a paper copy, available free of charge, e-mail Carline Jean Louis at

For more information:

Andrew Bovarnick, Biodiversity Economist, UNDP/GEF, 304 East 45th St., FF-9th Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel: +1 212 906 6739; E-mail:

Report: MPAs can help achieve fisheries and biodiversity goals at same time

Using MPAs in ecosystem-based management of fisheries can be beneficial to both fisheries sustainability and biodiversity conservation, according to a new report prepared for the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage. Authors Trevor Ward and Eddie Hegerl write that designing MPAs for a “double payoff” – benefiting fisheries and biodiversity – requires strong cooperation between conservation and fisheries agencies, as well as effective partnerships with stakeholders. It may also involve parameters and criteria that are relatively complex, requiring the use of sophisticated decision-support tools. The authors call for increased documentation of the costs and benefits of MPAs designed to meet these dual objectives, and for a program to assess biodiversity benefits derived from existing MPAs that were created principally for fisheries purposes. The 66-page report Marine Protected Areas in Ecosystem-Based Management of Fisheries is available free of charge in Word and PDF formats at

Free access for developing nations to journals

Articles on marine science and MPAs often appear in academic journals. But for MPA practitioners, access to these publications is often limited, particularly in developing nations. Now, internet-based access to hundreds of journals is free of charge to universities and other institutions in nearly 70 countries, where the gross national product per capita is below US$1000. On October 14, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization launched the Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture initiative (AGORA), providing free online access to journals on fisheries, conservation biology, aquatic conservation, coastal resource management, deep sea research, and other topics. To view eligibility requirements, visit the AGORA website at

Victoria (Australia) releases management strategy

In October, the government of the Australian state of Victoria released a strategy setting statewide objectives for planning, operations, and research within its new system of marine national parks and sanctuaries (MPA News 4:7). Prepared with public consultation by Parks Victoria (the state parks agency), Management Strategy 2003-2010 incorporates an array of national and international best-practice principles on topics ranging from fostering MPA compliance to building indigenous partnerships. The document will guide the forthcoming preparation of management plans for each of the parks and sanctuaries, all of which are no-take. The 146-page document is available in PDF format at