Alternate Title

Community-Based Development of Multiple-Use Marine Protected Areas: Promoting Stewardship and Sharing Responsibility for Conservation in the San Andres Archipelago, Colombia

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The San Andres Archipelago in the western Caribbean includes some of the largest and most productive coral reef ecosystems in the hemisphere. Declared the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2000, this Colombian archipelago has 3 inhabited islands, 5 atolls, and an oceanic area of 300,000 km2. CORALINA, the local representative of the National Environment System, is responsible for environmental planning, management, and education. While setting up the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, this agency had hundreds of meetings with the islands’ communities, listening to their concerns. Issues, conflicts, and threats to marine and coastal areas were identified during these consultations. In response, CORALINA developed a project to establish a system of multiple-use marine protected areas (MPAs). Stakeholder consultation and community outreach programs were set up to facilitate participation in planning and implementation. Language and cultural differences, poverty, a history of powerlessness, and negative attitudes toward authorities are realities that have to be confronted when working with these communities. Although only in the design stage, the high level of stakeholder involvement in planning has resulted in widespread support of the MPAs. Lessons have already been learned that lead to recommendations on engaging local communities in MPA development.

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