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Principles for climate resilience are prevalent in marine protected area management plans

Cori Lopazanski, Bergen Foshay, Jessica L. Couture, Daniel Wagner, Lee Hannah, Emily Pidgeon, Darcy Bradley

Conservation Letters

July 28, 2023

Climate change is threatening marine systems, and its widespread and dynamic effects are creating challenges for designing and managing marine protected areas (MPAs). The majority of recommendations for climate‐resilient MPAs focus on enhancing ecological resilience to disturbance and updating management strategies to respond as changes occur. Here, we assess how existing recommendations for climate resilience are applied in real‐world MPA management, using criteria from five key management components: objectives, assessments, design, monitoring, and management. Our review evaluates 172 management plans for 555 MPAs across 52 countries and written in nine languages. We find that MPA management plans contain many underlying scientific and management principles for promoting resilience to climate change, even when “climate change” or related terms are not specifically included: plans include long‐term objectives (93.6%), threat‐reduction strategies (99.4%), monitoring programs (97.7%), and adaptive management (93%). However, there is substantial variation in the degree to which plans explicitly incorporate climate change into their strategies, from not mentioning it at all (21.5%) to developing detailed climate change‐specific action plans (20.9%), with most somewhere in between. In addition to identifying common gaps across management plans, we also provide practical examples of activities MPA managers are undertaking to address climate change.

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Lopazanski, C., Foshay, B., Couture, J. L., Wagner, D., Hannah, L., Pidgeon, E., & Bradley, D. (2023). Principles for climate resilience are prevalent in marine protected area management plans. Conservation Letters. Portico.