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Assessing Protected Area Management Effectiveness: the Need for a Wetland-Specific Evaluation Tool

Abstract

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat was developed in 1971, and has established the world’s largest network of protected areas. However, monitoring and reporting have been inadequate to fully achieve the goals of the Convention. We argue that current reporting mechanisms, including the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT), Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management (RAPPAM), and the R-METT reporting framework adopted at the 12th Conference of the Parties, are not well adapted to wetland systems and the objectives of the Ramsar Convention. This paper outlines one possible structure for a new reporting mechanism, explicitly focused on the Convention’s objectives of maintaining ecological character and promoting wise use within the context of sustainable development. Through these lenses, we developed a 15-question framework that would have site managers compile the most pertinent information relating to these two points quickly, including providing operational definitions, identifying allowable uses, quantifying economic benefits, reporting fundamental monitoring data, and assessing stakeholder engagement opportunities. We argue that, if we are to provide an informed outlook for the next half-century of wetland conservation under the Ramsar Convention, we must begin by refining its information-gathering protocols for its system of wetlands of international importance.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank A. Figueroa, E. Echeverri, and R. Hazard for feedback provided on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Funding

This research was funded through a Florida International University (FIU) Tropics Research Grant (2019), Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center’s Tinker Field Research Collaborative Grant funded by the Tinker Foundation, Inc. (2019), the Judith Evans Parker Travel Scholarship administered by the FIU Department of Biological Sciences (2019), and the Department of Earth and Environment at FIU.

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SMM developed the framework, conducted the literature review, and wrote the manuscript. JTH conceptualized the framework and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Steffanie M. Munguía.

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Munguía, S.M., Heinen, J.T. Assessing Protected Area Management Effectiveness: the Need for a Wetland-Specific Evaluation Tool. Environmental Management 68, 773–784 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-021-01527-1

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Keywords

  • Ramsar Convention
  • Reporting mechanisms
  • Monitoring
  • Assessment
  • Wise use