Presentation on theme: "Translating volunteer recording into marine conservation action Alan Law Marine Director, Natural England."— Presentation transcript:
Translating volunteer recording into marine conservation action Alan Law Marine Director, Natural England
About Natural England Statutory advisor on the natural environment. Purpose: “to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of current and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development”. Marine remit covers England’s territorial waters to 12nm 2200 staff of which c170 engaged in marine work. Work on identification of Marine Protected Areas in English waters for Defra Statutory advice to Industries & Regulators Monitoring and management advice for MPAs Proposals for new SACs and SPAs
Outline Current state of knowledge about our seas The Marine Protected Area network Evidence requirements for MPAs Use of evidence in MCZ designation Evidence challenges around identifying and designating MPAs Opportunities for volunteer input –Now –Future
Starting point land vs sea First SSSI notified in 1949 Currently over 4,000 SSSIs and 224 NNRs covering >1 million hectares (c8%) of England’s land area Over 60 years of research, monitoring and experimentation First marine nature reserve in 1986 Marine SACs first designated in 2005 Marine protected areas currently cover around 25% of England’s sea area Comprehensive research and monitoring programmes mainly in last 10-15 years.
State of marine knowledge Provision of evidence in marine environment is problematical, particularly outside designated sites because: –The history of comprehensive evidence gathering at sea is relatively short compared to evidence gathering on land and comprehensive monitoring programmes are not yet in place –The difficulty and cost of access We lack information on: Distribution of marine habitats and species Condition of marine features Pressures and impacts How the marine environment is changing
The UK MPA network One network, six designations
What evidence do we need? Evidence is required for: Setting guidelines and targets MPA identification –the location of features MPA designation –the location and extent of features Developing MPA advice on: –feature condition –feature sensitivity –the location and intensity of activities
Levels of evidence - comparison of evidence for identification SACs and MCZs SACsMCZs Type of evidenceEcological & physicalEcological, physical & socio-economic Science inputThrough surveyGuideline preparation Site identificationPrimary surveyExisting information, plus survey where needed Evidence qualityHigh – through dedicated survey to meet objectives Variable FeaturesFew (Annex 1)Many Cost of obtaining evidence HighLow (initially) Stakeholder involvementThrough consultationIdentification & consultation Stakeholder challengeHigh
Marine conservation zone project Regional projects worked to national guidance Provided with national ecological and socio-economic data, supplemented with local data and information Considered “best available” ecological and socio-economic evidence to identify sites. Projects’ recommendations identify where consensus could not be reached. RSG members were requested to represent their sector and engage them between meetings. Some stakeholders struggled to engage.
MCZ project recommendations 127 rMCZs – 1205 features 15% Defra marine area 65 Reference areas 2,500+ interviews 150+ negotiation meetings 600,000 stakeholder interests
Marine conservation zones – designation proposals 31 sites proposed for designation in the first tranche Reasons for not taking sites forward in the first tranche (or at all) due to: –Socio-economic concerns –Level of evidence needed to designate (and manage) MCZs is higher than “best available” –Insufficient evidence and/or low confidence in the available evidence
Summary of data issues Sites were identified on the basis of the best available evidence but this has, in many cases, been deemed insufficient Evidence often a combination of modelled data and direct survey –Collected by different methods at different times –Often conflicting or out of date For many habitat and species features confidence in their presence and extent is low
Opportunities for volunteer input to improve the evidence base Types of evidence that volunteers can contribute to: Increasing our understanding of the presence and distribution of habitats and species –More scope for volunteer involvement –Can often be done from the shore –Reduced need for specialised equipment More detailed work to map the extent particularly of subtidal features –More costly –Less accessible to amateurs –Often requires specialist equipment
Future opportunities Stretching the definition of “volunteer” Harnessing the power of those already on the water –Fishermen –Recreational boat users Improving technology and techniques – new possibilities? DNA techniques – could water samples for DNA analysis one day be collected by anyone with a boat? Smaller and cheaper remote sensing equipment – could this in the future be accessible to recreational boat users? Developing mobile apps to make it easier to record data
Evidence challenges in the marine environment - summary Our basic knowledge of marine ecosystems lags far behind our understanding of terrestrial ecosystems In particular we lack knowledge and understanding of: –The location and extent of features –The condition of marine features –What our monitoring is telling us about quality and change Our evidence comes from many sources of variable quality and distribution The costs of collecting evidence in the marine environment is extremely high and resources from traditional sources are reducing There is increasing pressure to have more, and more detailed information about marine features. There is no set evidence ‘bar’ for SACs or MCZs. When do we have enough?
Summary There are many current opportunities for volunteers to contribute to the marine evidence base both to collect broader distributional information and to be involved in more targeted and comprehensive surveys. There is a role for schools and community groups, interested individuals, those who are using our seas both for work or recreational purposes. Improving and cheaper technology and methodologies are opening up possibilities of collecting information on a wider scale. The question is how to harness the enthusiasm we know is out there and to ensure that the information collected is made widely available.
Alan Law Marine Director, Natural England firstname.lastname@example.org
Base data used Provided nationally –Broad-scale habitat map –Locations of rare, threatened & declining species & habitats –Socio-economic data layers –Existing MPAs Additional local information –Habitats and species –Inshore fishing and recreation Data issues –Conflicting/out of date information –Provenance of stakeholder data