Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program

Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program

ACS and its partners (Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile and Shellcatch) are working with fishing organizations along the central coast of Chile to create a network of marine reserves that are managed by fishermen.

Over the past several years, we have designed a program that is both desirable to fishing communities and leverages Chilean law that grants fishing cooperatives exclusive access rights to stretches of the coast. Known as TURFs (Territorial User Rights for Fisheries), these access rights are an important source of income for fishing communities via benthic fisheries.

A number of fishing communities have chosen to participate in the Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program. They agree to set aside a portion of their TURF as a no-take zone and agree to conduct anti-poaching surveillance.

In exchange, the community receives an annual payment to help with enforcement costs, as well as a video coastal monitoring system that independently monitors the no-take zone. ACS then monitors the biodiversity at the no-take zone and control sites to document changes and benefits. With support from Walton Family Foundation, we will be working over the next year to scale the program in central Chile by enrolling more fishing organizations in the Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program.

ACS Associate Stefan Gelcich and a Capital Azul Reserve Program  sign at the fishing community headquarters of Maitencillo in central Chile.

ACS Associate Stefan Gelcich and a Capital Azul Reserve Program  sign at the fishing community headquarters of Maitencillo in central Chile.

Invasive Species & Landowners' Knowledge Systems

Invasive Species & Landowners' Knowledge Systems

Shared ecological knowledge about the impacts of biological invasions can facilitate the collective action necessary to achieve desired management outcomes. Since its introduction to an island archipelago in South America, the North American beaver has caused major changes to the ecosystem. We examined landowners’ mental models of how beavers impact ecosystem services in riparian areas to understand the potential to implement a large-scale eradication program. We used ethno- graphic interviews to characterize individual landowners’ perceptions about beaver-caused changes to ecosystems and landowners’ wellbeing, and examined the degree to which they are shared. While the eradication initiative focuses on ecosystem integrity, landowners considered impacts on provisioning ser- vices to be most salient. Landowners did not have a highly shared causal model of beaver impacts, which indicates a diverse knowledge system. This lack of consensus on how beavers impact riparian areas provides some optimism for garnering support for eradication, and also offers insights into challenges with mental modeling methodologies.

  

Designing Coastal Solutions

Designing Coastal Solutions

Last month ACS led a workshop focused on designing new solutions to coastal challenges in Latin America. Held at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, over 30 scientists, architects, and planners participated, representing multiple countries along the Pacific coast of the Americas. We spent a day working with experts from Canada to Chile on designing a program that would promote new solutions across Latin America. Working with partners Cornell University and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, ACS is designing a ten-year fellowship program to tackle environmental challenges in coastal areas.

The goal of the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program is to build, train, and support a collaborative network of scientists, developers, and planners who are designing and implementing new evidence-based solutions to coastal environmental challenges in Latin America. For the next decade, the Program will support the development of innovative solutions for conservation and development in Latin America along the Pacific Americas Flyway. From Mexico to Chile, dozens of coastal sites provide critical habitat for millions of migrating shorebirds. Shorebirds exemplify the connectedness, wonder, and complexity of nature by migrating annually from breeding sites in the Arctic to key wintering sites in Latin America. Many species are endangered, partly because these coastal sites are threatened by development, climate change, and other dynamic processes. Coastal Solutions Fellows will collaborate across sectors to develop new evidence-based approaches to improve the protection of shorebirds and their habitats in Latin America along the Pacific Americas Flyway.

The greatest threats to the Pacific Americas Flyway in Latin America are various types of business as usual coastal development, including urban, tourism, and aquaculture. These threats are exacerbated by current and projected impacts associated to climate change. Effective solutions that target and reduce these threats will require collaborations between scientists, planners, and developers. Yet, opportunities for developing cross-sector collaborations are rare. The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program exists to spark new collaborations between scientists, planners, and developers by promoting peer-to-peer learning, providing strategic trainings, and challenging fellows to develop site-based coastal solutions along the Pacific Americas Flyway.

Proactive Strategies for Protecting Species

Proactive Strategies for Protecting Species

Nearly forty years old, the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) remains a landmark act in conservation and one of the world’s most comprehensive laws designed to prevent species extinctions and support recovery efforts for imperiled species. A controversial law and often subject to political attack, the ESA is successful overall but not without difficulties. Those who enforce the ESA, for example, struggle to achieve viable recovery goals for many species.

This forward-thinking, innovative volume provides a roadmap for designing species conservation programs on the ground so they are effective and take place upstream of regulation, which will contribute to a reduction in lawsuits and other expenses that arise after a species is listed. Proactive Strategies for Species Protection is a guidebook for anyone anywhere interested in designing programs that incentivize environmental stewardship and species conservation.

This volume brings together ecologists, foresters, social scientists, lawyers, ranchers, government officials, and others to create a legal, scientific, sociological, financial, and technological foundation for designing solutions that incentivize conservation action for hundreds of at-risk species—prior to their potential listing under the ESA. Proactive Strategies for Protecting Species explores the perspectives, opportunities, and challenges around designing and implementing pre-listing programs and approaches to species conservation.

Community-based Environmental Monitoring in Mexico

Community-based Environmental Monitoring in Mexico

ACS recently returned from the Yucatan where we are working the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad). Over the next six months, we will be helping CONABIO understand what influences participation in their community-based avian monitoring program. One of the longest-running programs of its type, the program consists of a network of dozens of community groups monitoring birds across all of Mexico.

Research on Seafood Fraud

Research on Seafood Fraud

Research on seafood fraud is a nascent topic. A recent study makes the claim that “mislabeling results in the sale of items of better conservation status and nearly equivalent price.” However the study has a number of issues that questions its main conclusions. First, based on the data and results that are presented, there appear to be errors and some of the conclusions are not supported. Second, there may be a bias in the analyses that favors the conclusions. Third, details are lacking regarding the analyses, challenging their verification.  ACS published a letter in the journal Conservation Letters describing the issues. Seafood fraud results from natural and human systems interacting in complex ways, which is likely resulting in place-based consequences.  We argue that in order to characterize the system dynamics and provide insights into the financial and ecological implications of seafood fraud, a more careful and cautious approach is required.

Achieving Biodiversity Benefits with Offsets: Is Research Tackling the Right Topics?

Achieving Biodiversity Benefits with Offsets: Is Research Tackling the Right Topics?

Biodiversity offsets are becoming increasingly common across a portfolio of settings: national policy, voluntary programs, international lending, and corporate business structures. Given the diversity of ecological, political, and socio-economic systems where offsets may be applied, place-based information is likely to be most useful in designing and implementing offset programs, along with guiding principles that assure best practice. We reviewed the research on biodiversity offsets to explore gaps and needs. While the peer-reviewed literature on offsets is growing rapidly, it is heavily dominated by ecological theory, wetland ecosystems, and U.S.-based research. Given that majority of offset policies and programs are occurring in middle- and low-income countries, the research gaps we identified present a number of risks. They also present an opportunity to create regionally based learning platforms focused on pilot projects and institutional capacity building. Scientific research should diversify, both topically and geographically, in order to support the successful design, implementation, and monitoring of biodiversity offset programs.

Fishers' perceptions on rights-based approaches to marine management

Fishers' perceptions on rights-based approaches to marine management

Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs) are becoming a widely promoted tool to enhance the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. In 1991, Chile established a national coastal TURF policy that gave legal authority to assign exclusive access rights to artisanal fisher organizations. In 2014, there were several hundred TURFs decreed to fisher organizations in different biophysical and socioeconomic settings. To date, research assessing TURF implementation has generally been based on a few case studies and have had mixed results. Here, we present results from a survey of 535 fishers from 55 different artisanal fisher organizations. e survey consisted of three open-ended questions that explore users’ perceptions of the main problems, benefits, and improvements concerning assigned TURFs. Main key problems, as perceived by fishers, include increased costs associated with surveillance and poaching, and the variability and sometimes lack of financial returns. Despite strong price drops in exported species, TURFs have provided incentives for innovation and stewardship, and fishers are generally unwilling to relinquish them...

Improving invasive ant eradication as a conservation tool: A review

Improving invasive ant eradication as a conservation tool: A review

Ants are one of the most cosmopolitan invasive taxa: dozens of species have invaded islands and continental areas around the globe. Invasive ants continue to colonize new ecosystems having direct and indirect negative impacts on natural and managed ecosystems. Thus, in many cases, eradication is often a desirable management action. While invasive ant eradications have increased over the past 15 years, the success rate of ant eradications is low compared to other invasive species. With colleagues from CISRO Australia and University College of London, ACS reviewed ant eradications worldwide in order to assess the practice and identify knowledge gaps and challenges.

Conservation Landscape Assessment of Panama Bay, Panama

Conservation Landscape Assessment of Panama Bay, Panama

Panama Bay is one of the most important wintering and stopover areas for shorebirds in the western hemisphere. In 2015, Advanced Conservation Strategies conducted a Conservation Landscape Assessment of Panama Bay for the David & Lucile Packard Foundation. A research team, including natural scientists, social scientists, architects, and land use planners, conducted primary and secondary research, including stakeholder interviews across all sectors in Panama City. The goal was to assess the state of shorebird habitat protection in Panama Bay and how it fits into the larger landscape and dynamics surrounding the Panama City metropolitan area. Advanced Conservation Strategies also provided a series of broad, forward-looking recommendations to improve wetland and shorebird protection.