Assessment of progress towards Intermediate State 2: marine protected area network is being managed effectively to achieve conservation goals

Theory of Change overview

The intermediate state, ‘Marine Protected Area (MPA) network is being managed effectively to achieve conservation goals’, was the second key ingredient necessary to contribute towards delivering the intended project impact. As the understanding of the Seychelles marine ecosystem improves, it is becoming apparent that existing marine protected area coverage is inappropriate and insufficient to conserve all the ecologically important and sensitive areas, both in terms of global environmental benefits and the ecosystem functions and processes supporting them.12 An effectively managed Seychellois MPA network would adapt its coverage where appropriate and feasible and would ensure that each MPA is managed as part of an integrated system rather than as an individual, isolated entity. When such an integrated MPA system is in place, the review considers that conservation goals and impacts will have been achieved. This intermediate state is focused on enhancing the conservation status of the threatened marine species.

The study team identified Outcome 3 as critical for delivering this intermediate state (see Figure 7.6). Outcome 3 sought to lay the foundation necessary to run an integrated MPA network, in particular by planning and agreeing to the long-term arrangements and institutional modalities for implementing such a network.

The review identified two impact drivers and two external assumptions as being necessary to bridge the gap between the delivery of Outcome 3 and the achievement of Intermediate State 2 (see Figure 7.6). The first impact driver,‘MPA network is adequate to protect key ecosystem functions and processes’, is regarded as an important consideration that should be asked periodically of all protected area systems, based on current scientific understanding, to ensure that they are adequately protecting the ecosystem processes that sustain the associated impacts (e.g. global environmental benefits). The second driver, ‘financial sustainability of MPA network is established’, underpins the ability to manage, enforce and coordinate activities within and between MPAs and is therefore fundamental to the successful delivery of this intermediate state.

Regarding the external assumptions, the first,‘government has a clear vision for the MPA network and takes the leadership role for its development’, is considered crucial for achieving the intermediate state, because government is the only stakeholder with the mandate and authority to expand or alter protected area system coverage and

Theory of Change for Intermediate State 2

FIGURE 7.6 Theory of Change for Intermediate State 2

adjust, where necessary, the associated management regimes. The second assumption, that ‘there is sufficient buy-in and common ground between MPA stakeholders’, is also considered critical. This is because diverse actors (e.g. parastatal bodies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector) are involved in effectively managing an MPA network, and without transparency, accountability' and willingness to pool resources together it is unlikely that such a network will be effectively managed.

Overall, the review found limited evidence to show that the second intermediate state had been delivered. Due to the lack of an agreed strategy for developing a more integrated MPA network, no substantive progress has been made to improve the coverage of MPAs to capture the critical coral refhgia and other representative ecosystem components identified by the project as being outside of the existing system. Although informal collaboration between the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology-Marine Parks Authority' and the Seychelles Fisheries Authority over the management of spawning grounds has been initiated, no significant progress has been made to improve management efficiency between organizations dealing with Marine Protected Areas. In conclusion, the overall assessment for the delivery of Intermediate State Number Two is that it has been poorly achieved.

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