Conservation Leadership More Important Than Ever
April 22, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages lives and economies around the globe, all other issues, including conservation, have taken a distant backseat. On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day it’s worth remembering that adversity can spur progress: now is the time to lean into our collective efforts to advance conservation, environmental justice, and climate action. History shows us that even in the most difficult times, leadership and vision can advance largescale environmental successes with far-reaching ecological, social, and economic benefits. In 1933, as Great Depression unemployment peaked at almost 25%, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps…
As California nears the milestone of its first decade of MPA network implementation, valuable new lessons continue to emerge that can be applied both to improve its own efforts and to inform MPA managers around the world. As the impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems become more dire, there is also a growing interest in understanding how MPAs may help build resilience. Ensuring California’s MPA network is effectively managed is critical to both meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act itself and to ensuring the state’s MPAs contribute to a healthy and abundant ocean.
California has committed to partnership-based model of managing its marine protected area (MPA) network, focusing on community stewardship and education, enforcement, policy and permitting, and scientific monitoring. This document summarizes some of the key components and lessons learned from California’s experience designing, launching, and implementing a program to monitor the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of its MPA network.
From 2004 to 2012, RLF guided a public-private partnership including foundations, multiple stakeholder groups, and the State of California in creating a statewide, science-based network of marine protected areas (MPA) that protect nearly 17 percent of California’s nearshore ocean waters, the first such effort successfully completed in the United States. RLF produced an assessment of its experience in leading the eight-year Marine Life Protection Act Initiative that provides useful lessons to help guide MPA network planning efforts in other regions worldwide.
In December 2017, RLF released the second edition of Guide to California’s Marine Life Management Act, written by RLF’s Mike Weber with Huff McGonigal and Burr Heneman. RLF partnered with the state of California to establish a process for implementing the landmark 1999 law. RLF and its donors continue to advance monitoring, stewardship, governance, and public funding for the statewide marine protected area network created under the law. The Guide can be found here.