IUCN Initiatives Concerning Marine Protected Areas


Sue Wells

IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Office,

P.O. Box 68200, Nairobi, Kenya



IUCNís World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) provides a framework for promoting the development of a global ecologically representative system of MPAs. A review in 1995 showed that the current global network is far from complete, identified many areas of reef for protection, and emphasised the poor management of many existing areas. Much progress has been made since then, but further efforts are required to increase representation of coral reefs, with particular attention being paid to reefs that are sources for larval dispersal and to damaged or bleached reefs that have potential for recovery.

IUCN is also contributing to the improved management of MPAs with revisions of its Guidelines for the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas, and of its 1984 MPA management handbook. An IUCN/WCPA Management Effectiveness Task Force has been established to develop mechanisms and global standards for improving management effectiveness of protected areas. This is largely a forest initiative at present but there are plans to include MPAs. This will require close collaboration between monitoring programmes, such as those of GCRMN and Reefcheck, and national and regional networks of MPAs.

The IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Office is one of a number of IUCN offices that work on MPAs and coral reefs at the regional level. At the national level, specific activities include support to:

More general work is also underway in other countries in the region that contributes to both coral reef conservation and MPA establishment and management. Current regional activities include assisting countries in the region in the implementation of the Jakarta Mandate and Convention on Biological Diversity, with particular emphasis on the implementation of the Nairobi Convention. IUCN-EARO also collaborates closely with other marine programmes in the region including CORDIO, WIOMSA, SEACAM, and WWF.