Capstone Title

Coral Reef Conservation and the Role of Local Community Outreach Involvement through Education and Marine Protected Areas

Defense Date

11-2011

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Joshua Feingold

Second Advisor

Donald McCorquodale

Abstract

Community involvement in coral conservation can occur in a variety of capacities. I examined how local involvement within protected areas and educational programs promote conservation of reef habitats. Educational and management approaches were studied, providing case histories, documenting education programs. I considered the question of whether management and educational practices address the main concerns of local coral reef conservation.

Improved quality and availability of educational programs encouraged an understanding of the coral reef resources used by the community and facilitated conservation measures through actively aware resource users. The key element in effective management continues to be developing involved locals and encouraging environmentally responsible behaviors. With a broader range of economic prospects, sustainable management replaced extraction of resources and short- term benefits with long-term goals.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are commonly used in coral reef conservation but most often have not been understood by the locals, creating the potential for failure. Involvement of the community ensures that the management process considered the needs of local populations generating community support. Effective coral reef management depends on local populations placing value on coastal ecosystems, often through their daily lifestyle. An informed public is needed to bring about a change in attitude and local conservation. Awareness through education is the first step in responsible stewardship that must be demonstrated through conservative action.

Increasing anthropogenic pressure on coastal resources has resulted in a call for more integrated forms of management. The establishment of Apo and Sumilon Philippine Reserves allowed for substantial information to be obtained about benefits and pitfalls of community natural resource management. The success of the Apo Reserve and other community-based programs has served as templates for broader application of marine reserves, community-based education, and conservation management within the Philippines and globally. The Sumilon Reserve lacked consistent community involvement, understanding, and support from the implementation of the project leading to the belief regulations were being placed unjustly by outsiders.

Education, the most important action in coral conservation must take place first at the local level. Local education leading to community conservation maintains its place as the foundation for coral conservation supporting and laying the infrastructure for global action.

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