Integrating human well-being in marine conservation development: Towards sustainable Marine Protected Areas

Crawford School of Public Policy

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Wednesday 18 August 2021


Online via Zoom


Rifaee Rasheed


Ana Manero

Seminar type Final PhD thesis presentation

Abstract Implementing sustainable Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) requires understanding of both social and ecological dimensions, as well as how they contribute to human wellbeing.

However, studies that evaluate social outcomes are limited, and debate exists on the extent to which MPAs benefit humans. We examine the social impacts of MPAs, the drivers that influence MPA outcomes and recommend policy interventions to sustain MPAs effectively. By drawing on the broader literature on ecosystem services and social well-being, we propose a holistic and comprehensive framework to evaluate and monitor MPA outcomes at different social and temporal scales by considering the reciprocal interactions between humans and MPAs ecological health.

We examine a case study of four communities adjacent to the largest MPA in the Maldives – South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area (SAMPA) that is subject to a future management plan. I evaluate the potential for its success by examining the factors that are likely to impact its outcome. Results show that, over 50% of locals across all islands

feel the need for a functioning MPA, and over 85% are able to recognise its benefits. Results also show that, compared to conventional factors such as income and employment – locals’ perceptions and spiritual beliefs on marine resources, as well as their level of trust in other community members on MPA compliance, are likely to contribute to its success. To further evaluate the potential for SAMPAs’ success, I also evaluate two stakeholder participatory processes. Results find that tourism stakeholders using SAMPA are strongly against implementing a management plan for the area and have significant power and influence over government agencies. To sustain MPAs effectively, I conclude that, national and regional level conservation agendas need to be underpinned by a holistic sustainable well-being framework that can monitor changes and support improvements over time.

Bio Rifaee is a PhD candidate with the Resources, Environment and Development Group at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy. Rifaee’s research focuses on the social sciences aspect of environmental sustainability and natural resource management – particularly in the context of communities in marine and coastal settings. Prior to joining the ANU, she worked as a conservation science consultant to the Maldives Government on marine management and governance. She also worked as a marine biologist in Maldives where she has varied experiences in marine conservation education and community mobilisation. Rifaee holds a BSc in Marine Biology and Aquaculture from James Cook University (JCU), and a Master’s in environmental management and Development from the Australian National University (ANU). Currently, Rifaee is the Managing Editor for the Journal The Anthropocene Review.

Seminar chair: Associate Professor Ida Kubiszewski, Crawford School of Public Policy Ana Manero is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Panel members: Professor Natalie Stoeckl, Associate Dean of Research, College of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania Associate Professor Ameer Abdulla, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland

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