Marine Protected Areas and Biosphere Reserves for the planning and use of marine resources and space

On 6 October 2020, the MSPglobal Initiative, together with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO, organized a technical seminar dedicated to “Marine Protected Areas and Biosphere Reserves in the context of Marine Spatial Planning and Sustainable Blue Economy processes”, which focused on examples from the Southeast Pacific.

The event started with an introductory presentation from Maria Rosa Cárdenas Tomažič, Programme Specialist of the MAB Programme. Established in 1971, the MAB Programme now boasts 701 biosphere reserves in 124 countries, including 21 transboundary sites, that belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Biosphere Reserves (BR), which nowadays cover 5% of the world’s surface, are areas designated to achieve three functions: conservation, development and logistic support (for both research and education).

Each BR has an important spatial component because it is internally organized in three zones:

  • core area (protected sites);
  • buffer zone (surrounding the core areas); and
  • transition area (area with a central function in sustainable development).

Following the creation of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves in 2009, a project called “Biosphere Reserves as a Tool for Coastal and Island Management in the South-East Pacific Region (BRESEP)” was implemented between 2014 and 2018 to support this type of BR in the Southeast Pacific. The main idea was to incorporate marine areas into already existing coastal BRs.

Three panelists were invited to explain the current status of BRs and coastal and marine protected areas in this region, which is one of the pilot cases of the MSPglobal Initiative.

Gisela Paredes, from the National Parks of Colombia, explained that the country has already established 37 coastal and marine protected areas, as well as three BRs in the Caribbean. These valuable areas for nature conservation are part of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR), which includes the coastal countries from Costa Rica to Ecuador.

The management plans of these areas are developed on a participatory basis, with a focus on sustainable development and centered on tourism and management of fisheries resources, as such contributing to the Blue Economy.

In the case of Panama, Shirley Binder, National Director of Protected Areas and Biodiversity at the Ministry of Environment, highlighted that the country already has 13% of its maritime territory as protected areas, including two oceanic areas: Cordillera de Coiba and Banco Volcán. In relation to BRs, as an effort that started with the support of the BRESEP Project, the country is still trying to increase the Darién BR in a way to include both coastal and marine waters.

To conclude, Rosa Liliana Garcia Garcia, from the Service for Natural Protected Areas of Peru, shared the Peruvian experience. The country has only nine coastal and marine protected areas. One of them is inside the MSPglobal pilot case in the Gulf of Guayaquil, while also being the core zone of the Noroeste Amotapes-Manglares BR. In addition, this BR is part of one of the three existing transboundary BRs in Latin America: the Bosques de Paz BR, agreed by Peru and Ecuador in 2017.

This online event was attended online by almost 300 participants from 17 different countries.

Watch the speakers’ presentations below:

MPAs and MSP
Poll results

MSPglobal pilot project in the Southeast Pacific


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