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November 18, 2020

12:00pm Zoom Webinar

Cinda Scott
The School for Field Studies, Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies

" The need for cultural competence in conservation: A case study of the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park in Bocas del Toro, Panamá "

The IUCN has called for the protection of 30% of the ocean by the year 2030. In the race to reach this goal, special attention should focus on the overall value of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with particular emphasis on efficacy and positive outcomes for both human and natural communities. Worldwide, MPAs are struggling to meet conservation goals which include increasing species richness, diversity, and biomass. Currently, only 7.5% of the ocean is protected with many MPAs only providing light protection. Considering that MPAs globally are not able to meet targeted conservation goals and are operating without the necessary enforcement or implementation measures, it is time to reconsider and reimagine the MPA conservation model as a whole. The Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park (IBNMP) in Bocas del Toro, Panamá provides an excellent example of the need for improved cross collaboration between community members, marine policy experts, scientists, and conservation organizations. Examination of data collected from recent studies investigating mangrove habitat complexity within and outside of the IBNMP finds that the region’s most complex habitats are not located within the boundaries of the IBNMP. Success of the IBNMP will require high levels of cultural competence, including the integration of indigenous knowledge, and local community belief systems to avoid conflict. With poor enforcement measures, miscommunication with community members and no long-term data sets, it is unclear who directly benefits from the presence of the IBNMP or what social and environmental advantages or disadvantages have manifested since the founding of the IBNMP in 1988. Conservation tools such as the IBNMP need the active integration of local knowledge into development and expansion plans for achieving its stated goals of protecting a representative sample of marine ecosystems, including sea turtle nesting areas, and augmenting tourism activities within the IBNMP.