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The Economics of Marine Reserves  

Venetia Alexa Hargreaves-Allen

Marine protected areas (MPAs) remain one of the principal strategies for marine conservation globally. MPAs are highly heterogeneous in terms of physical features such as size and shape, habitats included, management bodies undertaking management, goals, level of funding, and extent of enforcement. Economic research related to MPAs initially measured financial, gross, and net values generated by the habitats, most commonly fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and non-use values. Bioeconomic modeling also generated important insights into the complexities of fisheries-related outcomes at MPAs. MPAs require a significant investment in public funds for design, designation, and ongoing management, which have associated opportunity costs. Therefore cost-benefit analysis has been increasingly required to justify this investment and demonstrate their benefits over time. The true economic value of MPAs is the value of protection, not the resource being protected. There is substantial evidence that MPAs should increase recreational values due to improvements in biodiversity and habitat quality, but assumptions that MPAs will generate such improvements may not be justified. Indeed, there remains no equivocal demonstration of spillover in fisheries adjacent to MPAs, due in part to the variability inherent in ecological and socio-economic processes and limited evidence of tourism benefits that are biologically or socio-cultural sustainable. There is a need for carefully designed valuation studies that compare values for areas within MPAs compared the same areas without management (the counterfactual scenario). The ecosystem service framework has become widely adopted as a way of characterizing goods and services that contribute directly or indirectly to human welfare. Quantitative analyses of the marginal changes to ecosystem services due to MPAs remains rare due to the requirements of large amounts of fine-grained data, relatively undeveloped bio-physical models for the majority of services, and the complexities of incorporating ecological nonlinearities and threshold effects. In addition while some services are synergistic (so that double counting is difficult to avoid), others are traded off. Such marginal ecosystem service values are highly context specific, which limits the accuracy associated with benefits transfer. A number of studies published since 2000 have made advances in this area, and this is a rapidly developing field of research. While MPAs have been promoted as a sustainable development tool, there is evidence of significant distributive impacts of MPAs over time, over different time scales and between different stakeholders, including unintended costs to local stakeholders. Research suggests that support and compliance is predicated on the costs and benefits generated locally, which is a major determinant of MPA performance. Better understanding of socio-economic impacts will help to align incentives with MPA objectives. Further research is needed to value supporting and regulating services and to elucidate how ecosystem service provision is affected by MPAs in different conditions and contexts, over time and compared to unmanaged areas, to guide adaptive management.


National Parks in Colombia  

Claudia Leal

The history of Colombian national parks started in 1948 with the establishment of a reserve for scientific research, which stood alone until the 1960s, when various state agencies created a few parks with quite different goals in mind, including preserving imposing landscapes and conserving water. This rather casual development changed after the growing international concern for the environment led to the creation of an environmental agency in 1968 and the enactment of an environmental code in 1974, which served as institutional platform for the planned expansion of a system of national parks based largely on ecological criteria. Chronically underfunded and understaffed, the Office of National Parks has confronted its weakness by establishing parks which confer legal protection on areas whose natural attributes were deemed valuable. Such a strategy has led to confrontations with local populations living in and around parks, whose rights to resource use have been hampered. The office’s incapacity to properly enforce rules and its attempts to work with rural communities, especially indigenous groups, have to some extent mitigated such tensions. It has further sought to enlist the support of the middle classes and been forced to deal with illegal armed groups on the left and the right, as well as the national army, vying for territorial control. Although parks have not fulfilled their ideal, they have fostered the notion that the nation has a natural patrimony and have contributed decisively to its conservation.


Monarch Butterfly Conservation (Mexico)  

Will Wright

One of the most spectacular biological spectacles on the North American continent must be the annual migration of monarch butterflies. For eight months out of the year, beginning each spring, the winged wanderers spread out over two million square miles, from Minnesota to Maine, Manitoba to Mississippi, as generations lay eggs on milkweeds as they move northward. The caterpillars that emerge munch on their host plant, internalizing toxic cardenolides found in some milkweeds as a defense against birds, then form chrysalids to metamorphose into adult insects with orange wings which signal their poisonous nature. By autumn, most butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains, though not all, go southward to central Mexico, funneling down and overwintering at a mountainous location covering 0.015 percent of the area they occupied in the summer. At the Transverse Neovolcanic Belt, a mature forest of Oyamel fir and Montezuma pine provides an ideal microclimate for these hibernating monarchs—too cold and they freeze to death, too warm and they perish burning up their fat reserves. Come spring, after clustering on the trees for about four to five months, they begin the migratory cycle again. Before 1975, the monarch migration was basically a mystery. Canadians, Mexicans, and US residents had seen plenty of butterflies for centuries prior, but nobody understood the scope of this 2,800-mile journey until the late 20th century. Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, created by President Miguel de la Madrid in 1986, was limited in its ability to conserve overwintering forest land due to a commitment to austerity budgets after the Mexican debt crisis and the challenge of sustainable development for Mexican ejidos. Side accords to the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 promised greater cooperation among nation-states, but the loss of milkweed and nectar sources in the United States and Canada jeopardized trinational solidarity in conservation efforts. Debates over how to address illegal logging within the biosphere reserve divided those who favored surveillance and policing from those who advocated jobs and payments. Democratizing scientific knowledge first brought the monarch migration to the attention of the wider world, and democratizing income for conserved forests may offer a path to protecting it.


Protected Environmental Areas across Brazil  

Frederico Freitas

Brazil, the fifth-largest country on earth, has almost a third of its territory classified as protected areas. They include nature reserves with the strictest level of protection and areas reserved for sustainable use. They comprise, in their majority, public lands, but contain a percentage of privately owned estates. They are regulated by a centralized national system of protected areas, but their management is fragmented at all levels of government—federal, state, and municipal. They are located in the sparsely inhabited Brazilian hinterland but can also be found close to the country’s large and densely populated cities. And throughout the years, they have appealed to a diversity of values and policy goals to justify their existence: protection of natural features, development of frontiers, preservation of endangered species and their inhabitants, conservation of biodiversity, sustainability, social justice. All in all, the protected areas of Brazil represent one of the most extensive and ambitious forms of territorial intervention ever implemented in the country. It was not always like that. With a few exceptions, protected areas controlled by the state for the sake of conserving natural landscapes and resources were mostly absent before the 20th century. It was only in the 1930s that the Vargas regime established the first national parks in Brazil. They were followed by a dozen other parks in the 1950s and 1960s, but up until the 1970s, the establishment of protected areas in Brazil lacked proper planning, institutional support, and policy goals. This situation changed in the mid-1970s, during the height of the military dictatorship, when an alliance of Brazilian and foreign conservationists began pushing for the inclusion of protected areas in Amazonian development programs. The adoption of the language and methods of dictatorship-era territorial planning by the proponents of conservation set the basis for the development of a national system of protected areas. The system took twenty years to be passed into law, a period that coincided with the end of twenty-one years of military dictatorship and the return to democracy in Brazil. One of the novelties of this period was the appearance of groups, such as Amazonian rubber tappers, with a stake in defining conservation policy. They introduced ideas of social justice in the conservation debate, in what came to be known as socio-environmentalism. It was also during the post-dictatorship period that Brazilian conservationism adopted global standards of conservation, for example protection of biodiversity and sustainable development, as justifiable policy goals. In the early 21st century Brazil counts over 2,300 distinct protected areas distributed throughout all of its twenty-six states. They are part of a single, but diverse, national system of protected areas.


Conservation in the Amazon: Evolution and Situation  

Marc Dourojeanni

In 1945 the Amazon biome was almost intact. Marks of ancient cultural developments in Andean and lowland Amazon had cicatrized and the impacts of rubber and more recent resources exploitation were reversible. Very few roads existed, and only on the Amazon’s periphery. However, from the 1950s, but especially in the 1960s, Brazil and some Andean countries launched ambitious road-building and colonization processes. Amazon occupation heavily intensified in the 1970s when forest losses began to raise worldwide concern. More roads continued to be built at a geometrically growing pace in every following decade, multiplying correlated deforestation and forest degradation. A no-return point was reached when interoceanic roads crossed the Brazilian-Andean border in the 2000s, exposing remaining safe havens for indigenous people and nature. It is commonly estimated that today no less than 18% of the forest has been substituted by agriculture and that over 60% of that remaining has been significantly degraded. Theories regarding the importance of biogeochemical cycles have been developed since the 1970s. The confirmation of the role of the Amazon as a carbon sink added some international pressure for its protection. But, in general, the many scientific discoveries regarding the Amazon have not helped to improve its conservation. Instead, a combination of new agricultural technologies, anthropocentric philosophies, and economic changes strongly promoted forest clearing. Since the 1980s and as of today Amazon conservation efforts have been increasingly diversified, covering five theoretically complementary strategies: (a) more, larger, and better-managed protected areas; (b) more and larger indigenous territories; (c) a series of “sustainable-use” options such as “community-based conservation,” sustainable forestry, and agroforestry; (d) financing of conservation through debt swaps and climate change’s related financial mechanisms; and (e) better legislation and monitoring. Only five small protected areas have existed in the Amazon since the early 1960s but, responding to the road-building boom of the 1970s, several larger patches aiming at conserving viable samples of biological diversity were set aside, principally in Brazil and Peru. Today around 22% of the Amazon is protected but almost half of such areas correspond to categories that allow human presence and resources exploitation, and there is no effective management. Another 28% or more pertains to indigenous people who may or may not conserve the forest. Both types of areas together cover over 45% of the Amazon. None of the strategies, either alone or in conjunction, have fully achieved their objectives, while development pressures and threats multiply as roads and deforestation continue relentlessly, with increasing funding by multilateral and national banks and due to the influence of transnational enterprises. The future is likely to see unprecedented agriculture expansion and corresponding intensification of deforestation and forest degradation even in protected areas and indigenous land. Additionally, the upper portion of the Amazon basin will be impacted by new, larger hydraulic works. Mining, formal as well as illegal, will increase and spread. Policymakers of Amazon countries still view the region as an area in which to expand conventional development while the South American population continues to be mostly indifferent to Amazon conservation.


The Industrialization of Commercial Fishing, 1930–2016  

Carmel Finley

Nations rapidly industrialized after World War II, sharply increasing the extraction of resources from the natural world. Colonial empires broke up on land after the war, but they were re-created in the oceans. The United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union, as well as the British, Germans, and Spanish, industrialized their fisheries, replacing fleets of small-scale, independent artisanal fishermen with fewer but much larger government-subsidized ships. Nations like South Korea and China, as well as the Eastern Bloc countries of Poland and Bulgaria, also began fishing on an almost unimaginable scale. Countries raced to find new stocks of fish to exploit. As the Cold War deepened, nations sought to negotiate fishery agreements with Third World nations. The conflict over territorial claims led to the development of the Law of the Sea process, starting in 1958, and to the adoption of 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the 1970s. Fishing expanded with the understanding that fish stocks were robust and could withstand high harvest rates. The adoption of maximum sustained yield (MSY) after 1954 as the goal of postwar fishery negotiations assumed that fish had surplus and that scientists could determine how many fish could safely be caught. As fish stocks faltered under the onslaught of industrial fisheries, scientists re-assessed their assumptions about how many fish could be caught, but MSY, although modified, continues to be at the heart of modern fisheries management.