Located approximately 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands and surrounding Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR) are one of the most ecologically iconic and diverse areas on the planet. The Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) oversees a spatial zoning scheme to determine where and when different activities are permitted within the GMR. Although some artisanal fishing occurs, most activities in the GMR are related to tourism, which is central to the archipelago’s economy but also a main driver of environmental change.
To improve management, in 2014 the GNPD introduced the Galápagos Protected Area Marine Plan (GPAMP) and a subsequent Adaptive Management Plan. To implement these plans effectively requires a monitoring and evaluation system that is linked to management decisions. The Lenfest Ocean Program is supporting Dr. Leah Gerber, Arizona State University, and a team of researchers to work with the GNPD to co-develop a framework for structured decision-making in the GMR, which is a rigorous method that involves:
- Refining management objectives and modeling ecosystem behavior;
- Monitoring ecosystem change and response to management actions; and
- Evaluating spatial management options.