Why & How
Over the following decades, climate change will represent a rapidly increasing challenge for the ecosystems and the livelihoods in the Mediterranean area. Direct evidence of climate change is already being observed in the Mediterranean coast and in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Sea temperature increase and changes in salinity and circulation, for instance, are causing changes in native species distribution, spread of alien species, mass mortalities of macrobenthic communities and jellyfish population blooms. These changes don’t only cause impacts on marine biodiversity, but human activities as well - for example, the tourism and fishing sectors are being increasingly affected by it. Although a growing number of people is beginning to notice these effects, they are rarely associated to the concept of climate change.
MPAs play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, as they represent areas of reduced human pressure and concentrated conservation efforts. If well-managed, they can contribute to build resilience for both coastal communities and marine biodiversity. Unfortunately, climate change is not explicitly incorporated in the majority of MPA management plans in the Mediterranean and information to assist MPAs decision making is limited and fragmented, along with important gaps in capacity and funding.
The MPA-Adapt project was developed to tackle those challenges through a multi-level approach. Five marine protected areas from three Mediterranean countries were chosen to act as pilot sites for the development of climate change adaptation action plans and their integration into existing management frameworks.
In order to achieve this, they will undergo capacity building and one-on-one consultations with experts throughout the duration of the project. Based on their experiences and other available data, the project will deliver a strategy for climate change adaptation in MPAs of the Mediterranean, which should lead other MPAs through the same process and facilitate the development of basin-wide application of adaptive management standards for dealing with climate change related issues.
An important component of the project will be the communication aspect, both on local level through awareness raising activities in pilot MPAs, and on basin level, through active dissemination of results and the presentation of the ground breaking methodology developed in the project.
In the long run, the project shall foster networks by improving the dialogue and coordination between MPA managers and scientists in order to create the first line of Mediterranean MPA sentinel sites. The inclusion of key coastal actors in the project (such as local administrations, fishermen and divers) will contribute to linking MPA management to integrated coastal management and provide information about the impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services justifying investment in further mitigation and adaptation measures.
The specific objectives of the MPA-Adapt are:
- To raise awareness of the role of effective MPAs for enhancing resilience to Climate change and safeguarding ecosystem services as well as contributing to adaptation measures.
- To strengthen capacity of MPAs to plan for and respond to climate change impacts based on a better understanding of climate risk and vulnerability.
- To showcase how climate change can be integrated into planning and management of Mediterranean MPAs.