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The implementation of participatory science-based coral reef conservation and restoration management approaches is critical today, because time is short for Caribbean coral reefs. Meaningful change can only be achieved by including all interested stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process.
Non-participatory top down approaches to coral reef management have proven ineffective.(1,2) There is increasing scientific evidence that community engagement in the development and implementation of marine protected area management plans works by improving trust between stakeholders and government officials, as well as fostering community compliance and bettering enforcement (3,4). The motivation for responsible management is restored when local communities contribute to the planning process. (5)
The time has come to abandon the failed, top-down approaches, influenced by “Big Green” Washington partnerships which lack genuine local participation. Only together can we expect to influence the tide of rapid coral decline in the Caribbean.
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1. Appeldoorn, R.S., & K.C. Lindeman. 2003. A Caribbean-wide survey of no-take marine reserves: Spatial coverage and attributes of effectiveness. Gulf Caribb. Res. Suppl.14(2):139-154.
2. Lindeman, K.C., & R.S. Appeldoorn.. 2003. Improving applications science in MPA design and management: Workshop report. Gulf Caribb. Res. Suppl. 14(2):195-198.
3. McConney, P., R. Pomeroy, & R. Mahon. 2003. Guidelines for coastal resource co- management in the Caribbean: Communicating the concepts and conditions that favor success. Caribbean Conservation Association, CERMES, MRAG, Barbados, 55 pp.
4. Berkes, F. 2004. Rethinking community-based conservation. Conserv. Biol. 18(3):621-630.
5. Birkeland, C. 2004. Ratcheting down the coral reefs. BioScience 54(11):1021-1027.
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