Marine Protected Area Management Capacity Building Program for the Gulf of California

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Date Published:
December 20, 2010
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Community Contribution

Describe The Approaches Utilized To Measure / Assess This KM Initiative: 

Success of the capacity building program is being measured at different levels using different indicators and methodologies. The planning process included the development of Results Chains (a methodology created by Foundations of Success), which helped us to identify expected Outputs, Outcomes and Impacts and assign indicators and methodologies to monitor progress for relevant components. In our program, knowledge gained (output) at the capacity building program should impact MPA management effectiveness (outcome) and consequently, contribute to reduce threats and ensure biodiversity viability (impact). To evaluate Outputs (knowledge gained) of the capacity building program we are using Kirkpatrick’s learning and training evaluation theory to develop evaluation formats for each workshop to measure: reaction of the student (what they thought and felt about the training); learning (resulting increase in knowledge); and results (effects resulting from the trainee’s performance) (Kirkpatrick, 2006). To evaluate field impact we considered the proposition of the Cambridge Conservation Forum, which is described in the article titled Outcomes, not implementation, predict conservation success” (Kapos et al., 2009). This article points out that the effects of many conservation projects on target populations or habitats only become measurable well beyond the time frame of the usual project cycle and an proposes an alternative approach to identify predictors of success. In our capacity building program a “predictor of success” is the outcome of management effectiveness. In order to assess the Gulf of California’s MPAs in terms of Management Effectiveness, a survey was designed for MPA staff, using Survey Monkey as the survey tool. To maintain a sense of continuity, the questionnaire is an adaptation of the Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management (RAPPAM) methodology, which has been used in official protected area system assessments. This assessment can help detect general trends, rather than determine the exact degree of fulfillment. The survey was conducted in May 2010 and was answered by staff working in 12 Gulf of California MPAs. The analysis covered two aspects of protected area management effectiveness: inputs and management processes. Inputs include staff, communication and finances. Management processes include management planning, management practices, monitoring, and evaluation. The average grade for all protected areas (system-wide level) was 26 out of 60 possible points. A similar survey will be conducted at the end of the project to measure whether management effectiveness has improved.

What Do You Think Are The Main Unanswered Questions Or Challenges Related To This Field Of Work?: 

Even when using key outcomes as predictors of success there’s always uncertainty about the effects and the actual contribution of capacity building to conservation results. We are in the middle of the assessment process. We generated a Management effectiveness baseline for the Marine Protected Areas Network of the Gulf of California, and we will compare these with the final results that will be assessed on 2011. It would be very useful for us to learn from other experiences on how others are measuring and linking capacity building and training programs with real conservation effects in the field. A big question that remains is – how much did capacity building contribute to achieving conservation results?

What Was The Purpose Or Motivation For Assessing This KM Initiative?: 

Available resources for conservation are limited. We are urged to identify which conservation approaches are most likely to succeed in order to adapt, allocate resources more efficiently and also to demonstrate achievements. Our main donor has asked us to demonstrate how an investment in capacity building can have effects on conservation.

What Were The Most Important Lessons Learned About The Assessment Process?: 

To develop different layers of indicators, the use of the results chain tool was very useful for determining the specific indicators to measure the results of our capacity-building program at different scales, and to demonstrate how these results relate to longer term conservation impacts. To identify the best methodologies to use it was important to ask three main questions: 1) Who is going to use the measures (project managers, donors); 2) What do they need to know and 3) How do they like to receive information?. The MPA Capacity building program involves steps that have different outcomes that may have different appropriate measures of success. To relate success of a capacity building program with conservation impact, we should identify key outcomes that provide the platform for reducing threats and for ensuring biodiversity viability. For capacity-building, the key outcome is the increase in the quantity and/or quality of effective conservation action. In our program effective action was reflected as MPA Effectiveness Management and was evaluated through the RAPPAM methodology to assess management effectiveness at a system-level. The RAPPAM implementation has the limitation that it is based on the perceptions of the interviewed persons. Extra care should be given to data analysis and presentation of RAPPAM results.

What Would You Do Differently Next Time?: 

Given that we are in the middle of the process, we are still learning what things work and what things should be changed in the future. With the information we have now, in order to have more accurate information regarding Management Effectiveness of MPA’s, instead of using only a Survey Monkey tool to implement the RAPPAM Methodology, we would have a workshop to conduct an in-person assessment of the Marine Protected Areas Network’s Management Effectiveness. In-person workshops could assure that the appropriate grade is given to evaluate indicators, and could enhance the learning and adaptive management process by through peer review and by allowing each protected area team to validate results and internalize lessons-learned

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What Advice Would You Give To Others Based On Your Experience?: 

Trying to evaluate field conservation impacts and link them with investments in knowledge development/capacity building programs is complex. Measures of key outcomes can potentially serve as predictors of real conservation effects, and project success. Conservation impacts depend on many factors, not only on knowledge and capacity. To measure the success of a capacity building /knowledge management program, it is useful to measure different steps of the process. First, it is useful to measure inputs and outputs, with indicators such as reaction and knowledge learned. Then, it is useful to define a “predictor of success” that can link an intermediate result with conservation impact. In our case, the “predictor of success” is MPA's Management Effectiveness.

Describe The KM Initiative: 

To increase management effectiveness and help abate threats to conservation in Marine Protected Areas of the Gulf of California, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, NOAA, the Mexican National Commission for Protected Areas and local NGOs are designing and implementing a three-year capacity-building program for MPA managers and key stakeholders. The program’s primary goal is to increase MPA management effectiveness in the Gulf of California by strengthening the knowledge, resources and skills of staff and key stakeholders. In the long term, we aim to a) secure effective MPA management at the local and regional level; b) establish partnerships between MPAs within the network; c) build and maintain communication links on a regional level; and d) advance global efforts to establish a global system of representative networks of marine and coastal protected areas. The program has five main strategies:

  1. developing MPA management training curricula based on capacity-building needs assessments and threat reduction needs;
  2. building the knowledge, skills and resources of key staff and stakeholders who will be expected to implement on-the-ground conservation projects;
  3. promoting a “capacity-building domino effect,” creating a professional network of Gulf of California MPA managers who will serve as local “capacity builders,”;
  4. supporting the implementation of conservation projects in Gulf of California MPAs that utilize lessons learned during the duration of the training program; and
  5. measuring the success of the capacity-building program.

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