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Securing the benefits : linking ecology with marine planning policy to examine the potential of a network of Marine Protected Areas to support human wellbeing
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by S Rees, S Fletcher, S Gall, L Friedrich, Emma JacksonEmma Jackson, L Rodwell
In line with international commitments to secure human wellbeing via conservation, many nations have set deadlines to implement ecologically coherent networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). However, progress towards achieving these targets is slow. To influence the discourse on the societal need for MPA networks a matrix approach is used to determine the potential for conservation features within the UK proposed network of 127 MPAs to deliver beneficial ecosystem processes and services. The results suggest a non-uniform distribution of ecosystem services across the network, with the majority of MPAs containing conservation features with the potential to deliver ecosystem processes. Designation of the full recommended network of MPAs may provide a form of ecological insurance against further decline in the delivery of beneficial ecosystem services and may also contribute to wider ecological health by supporting broadscale ecological processes. Non designation of MPAs that contain low frequency of occurrence beneficial ecosystem processes or services could result in their loss. Given the uncertainty about the connections between ecological function and the delivery of beneficial ecosystem processes, conservation policy and management must consider an ecologically coherent MPA network to be a minimum spatial requirement to secure the future delivery of ecosystem services.