International Coral Reef 
Action Network
ICRAN Strategic Plan
Draft of 23 June 2000
Component 1
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Component 1. Implementation

A significant part of ICRAN's effort and resources will support on-the-ground implementation of coral reef management. Through UNEP's Regional Seas Programmes a global network of effective coral reef Marine Protected Areas and Integrated Coastal Management sites will be established. 

Development of a global network of demonstration sites

In most developing countries, inadequately planned coastal and maritime development combined with a lack of financial resources and trained personnel, and a strong dependency of local communities on fisheries and tourism, has resulted in the unsustainable use of coral reef resources. Extensive study throughout tropical coastlines over the last two decades has clearly established the importance of Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as effective tools for improving the management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) identifies ICM as a primary tool in the conservation of biological diversity, and the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Framework for Action identifies the designation of ICM/MPA sites as a central theme and priority action. Since its initial meeting4 in Dumaguete City, Philippines in 1995, ICRI has sponsored a series of regional meetings that has resulted in identifying priority threats and actions, and the subsequent development of Regional Action Agendas. 

In the past, ICM/MPA sites have been developed on an ad hoc or opportunistic basis, leading to clustering of sites within limited regions or among certain ethnic or language groups and sparsely in others. Furthermore, funds have been inadequate to bring groups of villagers or officials to visit sites, thereby preventing effective outreach in demonstrating good practices. ICRAN offers the chance to strategically establish a network of demonstration sites that can be replicated as good practice within and between regions, and encourage local communities to share knowledge and experience among themselves. 

The Regional Seas Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-RSP) has been recommended by ICRAN partners to assume the coordinating role in establishing this global network of ICM and MPA sites. While the Regional Coordinating Units (RCUs) of UNEP will coordinate activities in each region, the project activities will be implemented in cooperation with national and regional institutions, government bodies and NGOs. Close collaboration will be sought with other regionally based activities, such as those associated with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) partners and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) regional offices. An important role will also be played by Regional Activity Centers, appointed through the Regional Seas. The Regional Activity Centers cooperate closely with the RCUs and provide expertise and human resources in support of the implementation of the regional work programs, including the ICRAN project. The RSPs have been identified by international ICRI workshops as the most appropriate framework for implementing ICRI activities at the regional level. Through the RSPs and its network of Regional Coordinating Units and Activity Centers, UNEP has provided support and coordinated regional activities on coastal management. Thirteen separate Regional Seas Action Plans and nine Conventions on Protection of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas have been developed, with over 140 states and territories participating. Within each of the Regional Seas Action Plans the priority themes are integrated management, development of water resources and protection of the marine environment from land- and sea-based pollution. UNEP has played a significant role in developing the concept of ICM and furthering its practice in the participating countries, and this experience will aid ICRAN's implementation. 

ICRAN priorities and specific actions for each region are presented below; however, the general activities that will be replicated within each RSP involve the following: 

1. Review effectiveness of existing management practices of MPAs and ICM sites encompassing coral reefs currently in each region, resulting in production of case studies and recommendations for best practices 

2. Work with existing and newly selected ICM/MPA sites to improve their capacity in demonstrating the principles of effective coral reef management 

3. Provide training at the demonstration sites with regionally adapted training material and case studies developed in the Start-up Phase, primarily directed at MPA managers, NGOs, project and government staff, to illustrate the processes of successful management 

4. Support dissemination of information to villages, policy makers and other stakeholders from surrounding areas to learn from the experiences gained at the demonstration sites within and outside of each RSP 

5. Promote pilot programs in alternative livelihoods in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to reduce harvest pressure on coral reefs, improve equity in support of participatory management and improve living conditions for local communities, taking into special account the role of women and lessons learned from previous programs via: 

- small grant programs for communities dependent on coral reefs 

- micro-credit programs, small business development, and marketing programs. 

ICRAN Regional Seas Priorities

As part of ICRAN's Start-up Phase, two of the Regional Seas were selected for pilot activities to begin enhancing coral reef management capability. The Wider Caribbean Region and Eastern Africa were chosen based on progress from previous efforts, existing capacity, as well as concern for a range of bio-physical impacts. The Wider Caribbean Region has begun formalizing the selection of its demonstration sites (see the table) and the Eastern Africa Region is currently reviewing the capacity of the member countries to protect coral reef resources through a detailed analysis. The activities in the Caribbean and Eastern Africa will continue throughout the Action Phase. The Caribbean region has a relatively low level of biodiversity compared to other regions, but one of the highest degrees of coral endemism. In the case of Eastern Africa, the region has experienced coral bleaching impacts along its coastlines. 

The RSPs to participate in the ICRAN have been chosen based on several factors, which include: 
- the extent of coral reefs
- levels of biodiversity and endemism
- the level of dependency of local communities on coral reefs, especially as a means of providing livelihood, and the presence of associated problems resulting from over-extraction
- the degree of threats to reefs, especially as associated with direct pressure from pollution, damage and disease, and over-extraction,
- the socio-economic dependence on coral reefs (such as tourism and fisheries)
- the capacity of the region to benefit from ICRAN's concept of coral reef management through the transfer of knowledge and good practice. 

Based on these factors the Southeast Asian and Pacific Regions will join the ICRAN project at the onset of the Action Phase. The Southeast Asian region harbors about one quarter of the world's mapped coral reefs, is considered the center of coral diversity, and has the greatest proportion of highly threatened coral reefs in the world (Figure 2).5 

The only region with a greater number of coral reefs is the Pacific, which has about 40 percent of the world's reefs, and 60 percent are assessed at low risk. The population pressure is also not as high as other parts of the world, except in a few localized areas. 

The two RSPs of the middle east region, the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment Programme (PERSGA) and the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) are also of significant concern, but will be linked to the Network at a later time, pending successful implementation of the priority locations. However, it should be noted that through funding provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the PERSGA and ROPME regions are currently initiating planning efforts with results and products that are complementary to many ICRAN objectives. 

The priority Regions are discussed individually along with the preliminary selection of Demonstration Sites, which will serve as the cornerstones for on-the-ground progress in coral reef management. 

Criteria for Selection of Demonstration Sites

The selection of ICRAN demonstration sites will be conducted through workshops in a participatory and transparent process. National and regional institutions, regional NGOs, and UN agencies operating in the region will be invited to participate in the final selection of the demonstration sites. The criteria for the selection of sites will be further refined and weighted by regional stakeholders, with the input from an ICRAN Technical Advisory Group, and will include the following considerations: 

- Representation of coral reefs and associated ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass beds
- Regional significance of the selected sites in terms of providing habitat for a wide diversity of species, or habitat to migratory, endemic or threatened species
- Presence of local coastal communities that use coral reefs and associated resources for their subsistence (either directly or indirectly)
- Presence of ongoing or resolved issues and stakeholder conflicts
- Examples of participatory approaches to management (including participatory management planning)
- Sites that have well-designed zoning or management plans that are being implemented and followed 
- Presence of investments (hotels, shopping centers, trade, scuba diving) and possibilities for partnerships with the private sector
- Accessibility to visitors (geographic location, communications infrastructure, internet facilities and visitor's facilities) and to arrange for demonstrations and training occasions
- Areas where the successful features in management have a high potential for replicability in other areas
- Areas that have potential to contribute - or are already contributing - to the economy by virtue of their conservation and sustainable management (i.e. refuge or nursery area, recreation or appreciation by tourists, subsistence by local inhabitants)
- Sites reflecting different environmental and management challenges (e.g. biogeographic boundaries or areas on international boundaries)
- Areas where social, political and community support is demonstrably high
- Sites for which a strong institutional and management framework exists
- Sites which have a wealth of readily available information, particularly those that may have existing lessons in management practices (e.g. sites that have been evaluated or assessed in some way)
- Sites that may have conducted monitoring programs that have demonstrated success in biodiversity protection, increased fisheries production, or specific economic benefits to the communities involved (e.g. tourism)
- Areas that are culturally or traditionally important for local and indigenous communities in the region. 

These criteria have been applied to the nominations of demonstration sites discussed within each of the priority Regional Seas Programmes (along with the priorities, actions and costs, discussed below), but are subject to verification by each region's stakeholders. 


The overall outputs for the Implementation Component will be: 

1. A global network of actively functioning demonstration sites (at least 3 sites per region) to spread the best management practices in reversing the decline in coral reef health 

2. Regional guidelines, recommendations and case studies for best practices in managing coral reef areas widely distributed 

3. Demonstrated enhancement of capacity in developing countries among local stakeholders, coastal managers, policy- and decision-makers, and government and project staff 

4. Appropriate changes in policy and practice, to improve the management effectiveness of coral reef areas 

5. Reports and information on the experiences and best practices in coral reef management - exchanged among all coral reef countries within the network through: 
- Formal information exchange (i.e. site visits within and between regions), workshops or conferences 
- Sharing of reports and literature
- Enhanced capacity to access and distribute information through the use of email and the Internet (through ReefBase, the "Coral List" list-server, and the ICRI Electronic Partnership Forum). 

4 Proceedings: International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS), November, 1998: Townsville, Queensland, Australia. See also the ICRI Regional Reports, 1995-1998. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/icri/.
5 An important note: Figure 2 does not represent the threat to any region given the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events of 1997-98, in which elevated sea surface temperatures resulted in severe coral bleaching and mortality, especially in the Western Indian Ocean. Refer to Wilkinson, C. (1998). Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 1998. Footnote #15.

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