Abstract: As the role of marine protected areas as conservation tools becomes better understood and more sophisticated, their planning becomes more complicated. Systematic, objective approaches to site selection and design can help reconcile conflicting interests, represent stakeholders' viewpoints fairly and evenly, and extend the scope of planning studies from single reserves to networks. We illustrate the use of spatial multiple‐criteria analysis for determining the suitability of marine areas for different uses and levels of protection. This technique couples geographic information systems (GIS) for land assessment and evaluation with a formal statement of the design priorities as seen from the different viewpoints of all involved stakeholders. The planning process, while staying focused on the main purposes of conservation and feasibility, involves all the main interest groups in the definition of priorities so that conflicts and tensions are kept under control. We used multiple‐criteria analysis to integrate objective data with the contrasting priorities of different stakeholders in the planning of a marine protected area. The results of the analysis can be used to define an optimal spatial arrangement of different protection levels. As a case study, we developed a zoning plan for one of the first marine protected areas in Italy, the Asinara Island National Marine Reserve.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2002
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