Strategic Adaptive Management | 05 August 2019
Linking research and action for effective conservation
The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is this month co-hosting a training for 31 Marine Protected Area professionals from Seychelles, Kenya, and Tanzania. The one-week long training will take place from August 12 – 16 at the Seychelles Maritime Academy.
The training is being conducted in partnership with the SMART Seas Programme and the Pew Fellowship Project, which is part of a collaboration between the SNPA and Dr Jennifer O’Leary, creator of the SAM’s (Strategic Adaptive Management) approach. It is the third of its kind which is held under the regional SAM programme here in Seychelles, following the second one in August 2017, which was held on Curieuse Island.
The purpose of the training is to develop peer trainers in areas that are critical to managing MPAs well: a) marine monitoring, b) data management and graphing, and c) strategic decision making and management.
This training is the culmination of a long-term collaboration between SNPA, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Tanzania Marine Parks & Reserve Unit, and the SMART Seas Network. The SMART Seas Network is a group of Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers and researchers from the Western Indian Ocean striving to ensure that MPAs deliver benefits for people and nature in the region. The network is led by Dr Jennifer O’Leary (The Nature Conservancy).
The SNPA protects 2642.02 hectares of ocean as MPAs. MPAs are viewed as one of the best strategies to conserve habitats and their biodiversity. MPAs are expected to benefit people through recreation and tourism opportunities and fish spillover into nearby fished waters and ensure conservation of important marine species and habitats. However, globally, MPAs often do not deliver on expected benefits due to weak management. Only about 1/3 of MPAs having documented progress towards achieving management goals. Seychelles is no exception to such shortfalls in MPA management effectiveness. MPAs are subject to external influences such as climate change and pollution, which is why careful management is critical.
SAM started in Seychelles in 2016 when Dr Jennifer O’Leary collaborated with the SNPA to launch the SAM approach in the Seychelles. This was made possible when Dr O’Leary was awarded a Pew Marine Fellowship for $150,000 USD (over three years) to allow expansion of the SAM approach and SMART Seas MPA mentoring initiative.
Since 2016, Dr O’Leary has worked with SNPA operations, research, and leadership teams to develop clear pathways to achieving MPA management excellence. This work has taken place during agency wide meetings, staff trainings, and site visits. Some of the key accomplishments include the launching of an operations-led monthly monitoring programme for coral reefs, seagrass beds, and sandy beaches to provide an early warning system of change within MPAs and the development of new monthly report forms that help operations teams link their activities to the core objectives and demonstrate progress as well as challenges.
One of the Seychellois participants of the August training is Park Ranger Dainise Quatre from the Marine Operation & Conservation within the SNPA:
Describe your job
My job is to ensure effective and efficient enforcement of all marine related laws of the Seychelles pertaining to the Marine National Parks. I participate actively in all the management of all marine parks which include research and monitoring, educational and eco-tourism activities.
How long have you been part of the SAM study in Seychelles?
What do you do as part of the SAM approach?
One example is conducting marine monitoring and I also give trainings to other staff about the monitoring method as well as the purpose of SAM for our MPAs.
Have you found the SAM approach effective?
SAM has a great impact on our MPAs and also on our organisation as a whole. It has shown us how to use simple methods and techniques that rangers can use to monitor the MPA status. SAM has also given us ideas of how to engage our staff in improving their monitoring skills and techniques to better understand the condition of our MPAs. The SAM programme also has given us ideas on how to set SMART objectives, and as a result make good decisions for our MPAs.
What kind of difficulties have you encountered?
We have certainly encountered various difficulties in trying to introduce this new approach to our MPAs. We initially lacked equipment to conduct the monitoring and we also have a shortage in work force.
What are you looking forward to in the August training?
I am very keen to attend the training as it will increase my capacity and competency level in the various ways in the data focal areas. This training will also give me a wide range of knowledge and techniques that will benefit me in my BSc studies that I am currently undertaking.