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MBNMS International Activities and Collaborations: Italy Research Plan

Research Plan
Aree Marine Protette dell'Italia
William J. Douros
July 2, 2004

Overall Goal

The overall goal of the research is concentrated on understanding how the marine protected areas (including marine parks) of Italy are organized, how they are managed, how they involve local communities and stakeholders, and how they use certain "tools" to protect resources within the marine areas.

A secondary goal is to provide to Italian counterparts examples from those programs within the National Marine Sanctuary Program that have been successful and would help the Italians better manage their marine protected areas.

Specific Elements

The basic research strategy will be fairly simple—meetings and discussions with parties involved with establishing and managing Italian marine protected areas. Written materials, including websites, will also be reviewed for relevant information. The six key, specific elements to focus on are described below.

Involving Communities and "Stakeholders"

Worldwide, it seems a key ingredient to successful marine protected areas is how well the managing entity engages and involves stakeholders and local, regional and national communities. So, important questions about how Italian's involve communities in managing marine protected areas are:

  • How are marine protected areas established, and what is the role of stakeholders and communities in the establishment process?
  • Once established, how are stakeholders and communities at all levels involved in managing the sites?
  • How do those strategies help the government manage the overall network of protected areas (assuming that is a goal)?

Research and Monitoring

Of the key tools to understand is how research and monitoring of human-induced and natural change help to better manage the protected areas.

  • What are the goals of research and monitoring at individual sites?
  • Is there a national, system-wide research and monitoring plan for the network of protected areas, and if so, how does it interconnect with site-specific plans?
  • Who conducts the research and monitoring—national scientists, local site scientists, outside scientists, or others?
  • How are data integrated between the sites, regardless of who collects it?
  • How is the science funded?
  • How do scientists from universities or other research institutions participate?
  • How are data shared with the public, used by decision-makers and incorporated into education programs and products?

Education and Outreach

A powerful tool used by the U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program to aid management of national marine sanctuaries is education and outreach. Understanding how the Italian system of marine protected areas uses this same tool is critical to comparing their effective management.

  • Does a comprehensive program of education and outreach exist?
  • What are the goals and audiences of the education and outreach programs of individual marine protected areas (if they exist)?
  • Who carries out the education and outreach programs?
  • What are their products and services?
  • How is effectiveness of education and outreach programs measured?

Protection Policies and Programs

The Italian marine protected areas vary in size and are spread across the Italian coastal regions (much like the U.S. system). It is important to understand how these different Italian marine protected areas use protection strategies to protect their diverse resources from diverse threats.

  • How are human activities restricted or otherwise controlled in Italian marine protected areas?
  • How are the restrictions enforced?
  • What are the measurements of success for these restricted activities?
  • To what extent is zoning used to restrict human activities, or access, and how are those zones established—what is the process, who is involved, are zones changed over time?
  • How is the compliance with zones and the effectiveness of zones monitored?
  • Are other ancillary protection programs employed, such as non-regulatory programs, or education and outreach?

Management Plans

The U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program has invested extensive resources the past four years in updating site-specific management plans. The extent to which Italian marine protected areas use management plans will be assessed by the following:

  • Do Italian marine protected areas have written management plans for each site?
  • What activities or management strategies do management plans address?
  • How often and by what process to Italian managers update their management plans?
  • How are the activities in those plans measured for success and, if measured, how is the measurement information fed back into the management system(s)?

Partnerships and Volunteers

The role of partners including volunteers is typically an integral component to managing marine resources such as national marine sanctuaries. For Italian marine protected areas, the following information is being sought:

  • Who are the "partners" involved in managing Italian marine protected areas?
  • What are their roles in the various marine protected areas around Italy?
  • How are volunteers used, what are their roles, who recruits and trains them?