The “top-down” model is a management strategy where scientific investigation leads the process of identifying and designating specific areas (Kelsey et al., 1995 in MPA connections, 2004). This model is an approach to planning that usually involves a centralized government imposing regulations or laws on resource users (MPA connections, 2004). This model can be very controversial and give rise to opposition as it fails to adequately take into consideration and represent the concerns of stakeholders in the MPA designation process which can result in a community with little understanding of, or support for an MPA site proposal or its management plan (Brody, 1998). This top-down management strategy tends to produce ‘paper-parks’ in which natural resources continue to be degraded due to ineffective enforcement measures and little compliance with rules and regulations (Brody, 1998). This seems to be evident with regards to Buccoo Reef, where decisions about the BRMP are largely made by government officials or management authorities without considering the contributions of many stakeholders. The local community especially those indigenous to the Buccoo Village region, feels disrespected by the lack of communication, and feels that their opinions should be taken into consideration. This lack of communication and support of community involvement, had led to a community that is somewhat disenfranchised, rebellious and uninterested in contributing to protection of the resource.
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The “bottom-up” management strategy employs the emphasis on acknowledging local values and perspectives as well as adapting designations to prior use patterns (Fiske 1992 in MPA connections, 2004). This model is a planning approach that usually combines scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge of the users in order to understand and accommodate how they rely on the resource (Graham et al., 1992). Protected areas, either terrestrial or marine, are diverse in their specifications and goals, but share a crucial common ingredient: the role of the public (Springer, 2006). It has thus been realized that biodiversity conversation initiatives cannot be thought in isolation of social issues (Mishra et al., 2009) and biodiversity conservation schemes that do not take local people into account not only raise ethical issues, but also run the risk of being self-defeating (Few, 2000) since ignoring the role of local communities will only exacerbate the problems associated with natural resources (Camarago at al., 2009). It is important to note however, that social systems are made of complex components, some of which are inevitably oppositional (Springer, 2006). Nevertheless, these variable roles played by diverse groups of people can contribute to the success of the designated protected area, or in some cases, fracture the entire scenario (Springer, 2006).
Over the past two decades, it has become widely recognized that the management of protected areas should include the cooperation and support of local communities (Wells & Brandon, 1992). There has been a growing realization that the conventional ‘Gun and Guard’ method of conservation is no more effective in dealing with the socio-ecological complexity and political dimensions of biodiversity conservation (Mishra at al., 2009). Dealing with such a multidimensional issue, requires integrated approaches that recognize the interconnectedness of social and ecological systems and attempt to link science, policy and societal goals through interdisciplinary methods of problem solving and multi-stakeholder involvement (Mishra et al., 2009). Failure to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to protected area management and manage protected areas as human ecosystems can compromise the biophysical values for which protection was sought (Stevens, 1986 in Lane, 2001). This realization has encouraged the development of ‘community-based conservation’ (Mehta & Kellert, 1998 cited in Bajracharya et al., 2005), which emphasizes the role of communities in decision making (Adams & Hulme, 2001).
Community-based conservation approaches to decision-making in the management of protected areas are increasingly being implemented (Bajracharya et al., 2005) and many projects have now been initiated in various countries, most notably in Africa, where implementation of such community-based conservation practices have contributed to decreases in poaching and improved conservation (Wainwright & Wehrmeyer, 1998 cited in Bajracharya et al., 2005). Designation of protected areas can sometimes result in a variety of negative consequences for rural or local communities by means of restriction of access to traditionally used resources, disruption of local cultures and economies by tourists, resulting in social and cultural disruption and possibly enforced poverty (Mishra 1982 in Bajracharya et al., 2006). These issues have heightened concerns and have led to the growing recognition that for protected areas to be effective, local people need to be closely involved in their management (Wells & Brandon, 1992). Several research papers have emphasized that failure to recognize the relationship between nature and people can precipitate local social disruption among other negative impacts (Lane, 2001). The approach of community-based protected area management attempts to influence the thinking and attitudes with the hope that this will eventually lead to changes in behavior, although in some communities, such changes do not always occur (Infield & Namara, 2001 in Bajracharya et al, 2005).
Achieving community-based conservation is very complex. It is very difficult to stipulate a single value or goal onto an entire community of varying stakeholders as that can be restrictive and ultimately ineffective because it does not represent the community as a whole (Springer, 2006). The extent of variation depends on many factors, such as, the size and character of the community in question, the social cohesion of that particular community and the underlying motivation in making unified decisions (Mascia 2004 cited in Springer, 2006). There is no single, definitive framework that can direct diverse communities toward full agreement of any particular issue, thus encouraging communities to come to a decision that represents a broad spectrum of motivations will facilitate the formation and acceptance of alternative and perhaps even more creative solutions (Chrislip, 1994 in Springer, 2006). It is extremely necessary to understand the social dynamics of protected areas as it can have important implications for the implementation of management decisions.
The central idea of community-based management or ‘co-management’ as it is sometimes interchangeably referred, is the idea that if park managers can establish a cooperative relationship with local residents and park users, in which the responsibility is shared, then the task of the professional manager and the nature and importance of local management problems can be significantly changed (Lane, 2001). Establishing a cooperative relationship however depends on how the issue is addressed to stakeholders. Management must determine how best it can interact with the local community to achieve reciprocally acceptable goals (Springer, 2006). As suggested by Springer (2006), the best way to guarantee the accomplishment of these goals is through familiarity of the complex social connections within the community of interest (Springer, 2006). In order to gain an understanding of the intricate social dimensions of any community, it requires a close analysis of that particular community which will call for significant consultation and collaboration with various community members (Chrislip 1994, cited in Springer, 2006). This collaboration between conservation planners and stakeholders is crucial to integrating protected areas into the local socioeconomic fabric of the community, thus overcoming local opposition and behaviors that would otherwise undermine conservation goals while developing effective partnerships between local stakeholders and conservation planners (Lane, 2001). These co-management or community-based arrangements have the potential to provide economic benefits for local peoples (Smyth, 1992 cited in Lane 2001), however the extent of the economic benefit is determined by the nature of the relationship between the community and managers and the willingness of the managers to consider local economic issues (Lane, 2001).
To achieve effective collaboration, approaches are required that effectively engage the local community in management and decision making, and that enable their livelihood needs to be adequately met (Bajracharya et al., 2006). This concept of linking conservation with community development has resulted in a major shift in conservation management, based on the assumption that if local communities derive some benefits from conservation, they will in turn be more likely to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity (Wells & Brandon, 1992). This linkage of conservation ideals with the societal realm of protected areas addresses biological, cultural, economic and political concerns while empowering communities through effective collaboration and integration in conservation efforts (Granek and Brown, 2005).
Before gaining local stakeholder and institutional participation, it is imperative that stakeholder education be a prerequisite to the planning and participation process. Educational programs should be implemented that acknowledge stakeholder concerns and educate stakeholders about the benefits and limitations of implementing a protected area. Granek and Brown (2005) showed in their studies on the Comoros Islands that educating about the natural history to local resource users resulted in greater understanding and appreciation of protecting local resources (Lundquist & Granek, 2005). Education however, should not be limited to only stakeholders, but rather include scientists and managers to be educated on issues that will increase their understanding of the socioeconomic processes that will habitually affect implementation (Lundquist & Granek, 2005). These processes include information on resource industries, political systems, legal frameworks for protection, social systems and consideration of potential socioeconomic impacts of protected area designation.
Education, though fundamental is not the only area in which focus needs to be placed. Of extreme importance as well is the need for the goal of the protected area to be clearly defined. Explicit goals and objectives that are defined early in the design process is important for improving communication and standardizing expectations of stakeholder groups (Lundquist & Granek, 2005) thus allowing stakeholders to be fully aware of the expected outcomes and methods for measuring success consequently encouraging more willing support.
Marine protected areas have met limited success in many developing countries and some researchers attribute part of these shortcomings to inadequate attention to the social context of conserving marine resources (Cinner, 2007). Marine protected areas are important in protecting the marine environment, but are also have substantial socio-cultural impacts (Badalamenti et al., 2000). In many MPAs, the success of the protective initiatives often tends to be proportional to the degree of involvement of the local community (West & Brechin, 1991 cited in Badalamenti et al., 2000). Considering the fact that effective execution of community involvement programs is quite multifaceted, one may be curious as to how many programs have actually been implemented and what factors contributed to its success or demise.
Granek and Brown (2005) conducted a 3 year study that analyzed the co-management practices implemented in Mohéli Marine Park, Comoros Islands. Their assessments proved that even though the co-management approach had some inevitable weaknesses, the strengths significantly benefited the park. Granek and Brown (2005) showed that co-management that integrated education, use of indigenous local knowledge, capacity building and community commitment provided partial mitigation where there was a lack of resources, weak governmental enforcement and inadequate scientific data. Through this integration, the local empowerment that resulted contributed to the development of a conservation ethic that provided potential for long-term success through local interest (Granek & Brown, 2005). Co-management in the Mohéli Marine Park also proved to empower community leaders and therefore evaded traditional hierarchical political structure (Granek & Brown, 2005). Involving the community proved to be of significance because this particular park lacked adequate scientific data, therefore requiring traditional knowledge as a substitute for limited ecological data. This in turn sparked local interest in being active in tracking the park’s success.
Unfortunately however, with these strengths also exists shortcomings of this co-management approach, for example, parks such as these that are based on limited scientific data and rely on traditional knowledge may hinder effectiveness. A lack of baseline data limits the ability of future research to quantitatively measure success (Granek & Brown, 2005). There is also the problem of inadequate government resources that can affect the park success and although there is community involvement in monitoring and policing the park, lack of adequate government enforcement continues to affect its success. Other shortcomings include larger scale political and economic issues such as overpopulation, or lack of available funding which can undermine conservation efforts. However, all in all, the co-management of Mohéli Marine Park has been successful thus far and the park has seen a notable increase in ecotourism with an average of 200 visitors per year, and even though the designation and implementation of this park were limited by available science, technical and financial resources and federal personnel, it has been compensated by the strength and interest of the local community (Granek & Brown, 2005).
Successful community-based management has also been observed in the case of Puerto Morelos reef, México. In this MPA, the establishment and maintenance had five stages (a) community leaders who would participate in the project were identified (b) consensus on the need to protect the reef through discussion among stakeholders, NGOs and scientists were generated (c) involvement of government agencies in establishing the status of the MPA (d) take-over of decision-making by centralized government agencies and; (e) continues problem-solving process between the government and stakeholders (Rodríguez-Martinéz, 2008). As previously mentioned, education plays an important role and in Puerto Morelos, public education was a main factor in gaining community support for the creation and management of the MPA. General education programs began in the early 1990s with participation of NGOs and scientists and expanded to schools with local teacher researchers, tourist operators and MPA personnel in 2003 (Rodríguez-Martinéz, 2008). Permanent educational programs began in 2004 which were designed to teach tourist guides about the values, functions, uses and fragility of coral reefs in order to heighten their interest in coral reef conservation and to provide them with better tools for work (Rodríguez-Martinéz, 2008). Visual aids and public awareness materials such as websites, booklets and fliers were also used to educated students and the wider public. The efforts put into community education highly contributed to an increase in the willingness to accept the MPA designation and also allowed all community sectors to be open to participation during and after the creation phase. The ultimate result is that Puerto Morelos reef has a very cohesive management strategy that gives the community a sense of ownership of the process and readiness to comply, resulting in an increase in the development of social capital.
Pollnac et al., (2001) examined the factors that influence the success of community-based marine protected areas in the Visayas, Philippines. The Phillipines is an extreme example where governmental policy, international aid, universities and NGOs have resulted in the establishment of over 400 MPAs (Pollnac et al., 2001). However, only about 20-25 percent of these MPAs in the Phillipines are successful, raising concern that this high failure rate may result in the rejection of the community-based approach. This study was conducted on 45 community-based marine protected areas in the Phillipines to conclude what factors led to the small success rate and whether or not these factors can be used to better the situation of the other 75 percent of MPA designation. At the conclusion of their study, it was indicated that six main factors appeared to be the most important in the overall success of the community-based MPAs on their sample.
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Population size was the first observed factor, where the population sizes of the successful MPAs was noted to be relatively small (Pollnac et al., 2001). It was observed that for initial cooperation, a perceived crisis was needed before the project was started, for example reduced fish populations. There was also the need for successful alternative income projects considering the community may not be able to use the resource after protection was designated. A relatively high level of community participation in the decision making process that was high on the democracy scale with, continuing advice from the implementing organization along with inputs from the municipal government were also noted. Though these factors were deemed the most important, it is important to note that they are not the only contributors and even though they worked in these areas the factors may differ in other areas.
Hind et al. (2008) conducted studies in Apo Island, Phillipines in attempt to show the benefits of community involvement (bottom-up approach). This study analyzed the effects of the transition of Apo Island from being rated one of the best community-involved MPAs to changing into a top-down, solely governmental organized MPA. Observations showed that the MPA went from being fully supported by the community to complete community disenchantment. This change in management strategy by governmental take over resulted in the exclusion of the community and stakeholder input, resulting is lack of interest and compliance to regulations.
Considering the complex heterogeneity of the existing community within the Buccoo Reef and Bon Accord region, sole community management may be very difficult to achieve as there will be a plethora of opinions and personal preferences to appease. Considering the aforementioned examples of successful community management of MPAs where the communities involved are somewhat fluid and more dependent on the resource and thus focused on the goal of conservation rather than that of personal gain as the community of Buccoo Reef, leads to another obstacle in achieving effective community management. This therefore lends to the suggestion of a combination of both “top-down” and “bottom-up” strategies to ensure effective management. Recognition is growing for such a combined management strategy as being ideal, as it is an approach that is government-driven but also heavily involves stakeholders (MPA connections). This therefore can lead to an increase in the social capital of the region as involvement in the decision making process can heighten interest in conservation and protection of the MPA.
In the Caribbean there are said to be greater than 285 MPAs (Burke and Maidens, 2004). The management success of these parks highly varies, with some just being ‘paper parks’, and others being successfully managed (see figure 8). In order to obtain this information, Burke and Maidens (2004) analyzed effectiveness of MPAs based on four major criteria: the presence of management activity and to what extent enforcement is executed, the presence of a management plan and the presence of resources. The results obtained showed that as much as 49% of MPAs in the Caribbean region are deemed as being inadequate with only 5% being considered good. Some studies suggest that MPAs are frequently unsuccessful as a reef conservation strategy especially in developing countries, where socio-economic factors such as poverty can drive resource exploitation and the capacity for enforcement is often lacking (McClanahan 1999, in Cinner, 2007).
Tourism and Carrying Capacity
Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the global economy, and in most countries, coastal tourism is the largest sector of this industry (Tourism and Recreation). In many countries, especially developing small island states, tourism contributes a significant and growing portion of GDP and is often the major course of foreign exchange (Tourism and Recreation). In 1998, direct and indirect GDP from travel and tourism in the Caribbean was over US$28 billion, accounting for approximately 25% of the region’s total GDP (WTTC 1999 in Tourism and Recreation). In the Caribbean, tourism is largely coastal or marine in nature and has been built upon the traditional aesthetic appeal of beaches, a marine environment suitable for a range of recreational activities, and warm weather conditions all year round (Tourism and Recreation). Considering the lure of the natural environment, the tourism industry within the Caribbean benefits largely from ‘pristine’ surroundings, and thus, uncontrolled expansion and mismanagement can harm the very resources on which it is based (WTTC et al., 1997 in Tourism and Recreation). Tourism growth rates vary greatly among Caribbean states, with U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico being 15-19% between 1990 and 1994, while that of Grenada, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago and the Caymans reported as being 33-37% growth, and that of Belize , St. Lucia and Guadeloupe amounting to as much as 50-65% growth for the same time period (Tourism and Recreation).
Marine protected areas are established for the primary purpose of conservation or preservation (Agardy et al., 2003), but their multiple use designation often incorporates a recreation and tourism component (Sorice et al., 2007). Undoubtedly, these use values benefit local and regional economies while also raising awareness and support of coral reef conservation, but unfortunately however, tourism and recreation participation can pose various threats to the marine resources, especially to fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs (Sorice et al., 2007). This illustrates the well-known concept of tourism as a double-edged sword and the tenuous balance between positive and negative impacts (Diedrich, 2007). In the past 20 years, there have been larger increases in visitation to marine protected areas in many parts of the world (Inglis et al., 1999).With this increase, is an associated increase in rates of participation in marine related activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving and reef walking (David and Tisdell, 1995) and thus, MPAs are increasingly challenged to maintain or increase tourism benefits while striving to protect the resource (Sorice at al., 2007).
Tourism has been thought of as a low-impact coral reef use, relative to extractive practices such as harvesting corals and fish for commercial purpose (Talge, 1993 in Zakai and Chadwick-Furman, 2002), however recent evidence has demonstrated that reefs may become degraded as a result of poor planned or intensive tourist use (Jameson et al., in Zakai and Chadwick-Furman, 2002). A number of studies have demonstrated that recreation and tourism activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling are threats to coral reefs because touching, standing, or trampling on reefs can cause serious damage such as coral breakage, abrasion and mortality (Hawkins et al., 1999 in Needham, 2010). Studies conducted on reef flats in Egypt have proven that heavily trampled reef flat areas showed a linear increase of coral damage with increased trampling intensities resulting in reduced coral cover, higher amounts of coral damage, less old dead coral, less obligate corallivorous fishes and more herbivores (Leujak, Ormond, 2007). Considering these findings, it might become necessary to restrict the number of visitors to a site, which raises the question: How much use is too much?
In order to attempt to answer such a question, one must consider looking at the notion of ‘carrying capacity’. Carrying capacity in tourism is a term used often to measure the level of tourism or tourism development an area can accommodate without adverse effects on the resident community, the natural environment, or the quality of visitor experience (UNEP AND WTO, 1992 in Tourism and Recreation). The basic concept of carrying capacity, the need for a limit of threshold in the tourist activity is present in one way or other in the concerns and priorities of local policy makers for sustainable tourism development (Kostopoulou and Kyritsis, 2006). However, to the extent that tourism related pressures on the natural environment create problems on the functioning of protected areas, management agencies need to determine what the various thresholds should be (Kostopoulou and Kyritsis, 2006).
When considering thresholds, research has proposed two distinct carrying capacity concepts. Firstly there is the notion of, “ecological or biological carrying capacity,” defined by Martin and Uysal (1990) as the maximum number of tourists that can be accommodated without causing excessive environmental degradation; and by Hawkins and Roberts (1997) as the amount of use below which an ecosystem can tolerate the amount of disturbance or stress, but above which degradation ensues (Leujak and Ormond, 2008). Secondly, there is the concept of “social carrying capacity,” which is defined as the level of use before a decline in users’ recreation experience ensues (O’Reilly et al., 1986).
Social carrying capacity has been proposed as a management tool for use in coastal tourism, with a decline in attractiveness of a beach location, as detected by a decline in visitor numbers being taken as an indicator of unsustainable resource use (O’Reilly, 1986). Any tourist destination where the environment is important can lose its attractiveness through either deterioration of the environment most likely due to crowding. Several studies have been undertaken to investigate visitor perceptions, mostly in terrestrial settings, with only a few in marine environments (Leujak and Ormond, 2007). However these studies have confirmed crowding as one of the major factors contributing to visitor dissatisfaction (Hoover et al., 1985 in Leujak and Ormond, 2007), with perceptions of crowding depending on different factors such as visitor characteristics and the location where encounters take place (O’ Reilly et al., 1986). Studies have shown that crowding norms appear strongly dependant on expectations, with visitors with greater experience of nature being more sensitive to visitor density (Manning 1985 in Leujak and Ormond, 2007). Intensified recreational use has been shown to reduce recreational enjoyment as negative impacts such as litter, or damage to plants, trees or corals tend to reduce aesthetic appeal and overall experience, although individuals with a lower degree of environmental concern appear to be more accepting of such impacts (Priskin, 2003 in Leujak and Ormond, 2007). Visitor behavior also has an influence on a location’s carrying capacity, as visitors may either simply not be aware of the impact they are having, they may be unable to change their behavior as a result of inexperience (for example inexperienced snorkelers or weak swimmers may be in need of instant rest while being out on a reef), or they may be unaware if existing regulations (Leujak and Ormond, 2007). As such it is important to take visitor perception, awareness and satisfaction into account when accessing any tourist destination, or in this case, a protected area as it can provide essential information for sustainable management (Daily 2000, in Uyarra et al., 2009).
Leujak and Ormond (2007) used this notion of social carrying capacity and administered questionnaires at various park locations in Egypt which addressed activity preference, coral reef knowledge and park regulation awareness. Visitor perception of reef quality and crowding were also taken into consideration. Based on their findings, it was estimated that to achieve a greater than 50% of visitors being satisfied about reef health, average coral cover would need to be around 25 to 30%, whereas a decrease of coral cover to 20% would leave only 40% of visitors satisfied and a reduction to 10% would leave only 25% satisfied (Leujak and Ormond, 2007). Results from this study showed that experienced recreationalists were more susceptible to overcrowding, preferring fewer people, whereas the less experienced showed preference to larger crowds. Various literatures have stated that determining the carrying capacity of a reef system is highly specific and still somewhat not fully understood. However, despite the difficulty of accurately assessing the carrying capacity of coral reefs for recreational use, the concept of carrying capacity remains an important and useful tool for coral reef management (Davis and Tisdell, 1995). Management must develop a concept that establishes the best allowable rate of visitation for the specific park in question as there is no one way to determine this since each site will have varying factors acting on it. It is important to assess these factors in order to allow for sustainable tourism within any protected area. The management plan of BRMP has indicated the need to establish some sort of ‘cap’ on visitation to the reef in order to achieve sustainable usage however no methods to achieving this goal have been mentioned. Sustainable tourism development not only has the potential for longer-term economic benefits for a community, but also can serve to limit environmental degradation (Tourism and Recreation).
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