An effectiveness scorecard for the management of a world heritage marine protected area!

By Djibril Ly, Banc d’Arguin National Park

Djibril Ly PNBA

The Banc d’Arguin National Park (PNBA) is celebrating its 42nd anniversary in 2018. For over four decades, the Mauritanian authorities have been trying to conserve this World Heritage Site with the support of their long-standing partners.  Dr Luc Hoffmann was one of the first philanthropists to support the park’s conservation efforts, and today MAVA is ensuring the continuity of this support by making the Banc d’Arguin one of its 5 iconic intervention sites.

Around a year ago, more precisely in October 2017, the PNBA’s management officially announced to its partners the development of its very first environmental monitoring tool: the “PNBA’s management effectiveness scorecard”.

The creation of this tool was a real challenge. Indeed, everything started in 2014 with the drawing up of the third Park Development and Management Plan [Plan d’Aménagement et de Gestion du Parc] (PAG 2015-2019). The aim “to provide reliable and useful scientific knowledge of use for conservation and the promotion of the PNBA’s ecological, economic and heritage values” is described in our management plan as one of the park’s top priorities. The implementation of the project actually started in January 2016 with the creation of a steering committee made up of managers from the institution and technical advisors from the French and German development agencies.

At the beginning, one essential question is often raised during discussions: what type of scorecard do we really want? A scorecard to assess management effectiveness or an environmental monitoring scorecard? The difference is subtle, but crucial for specifying the exact nature of the indicators that should be used. The team concluded that the two approaches were not conflicting and that one could enrich the other and vice versa. In other words, whilst one measures the impact of the Park’s actions on its land, the other provides data on the evolution in environmental dynamics (natural and social) through its monitoring work.  Thus, a scorecard must be drawn up that addresses these two goals and is adapted to the challenges of the protected area.

For the natural heritage, biodiversity values were the reason for the classification of the Banc d’Arguin as a World Heritage Site, and for example prevailed in the choice of indicators (endemic seabirds, vulnerable marine species, the monk seal, selachians and the dorcas gazelle).

Once the scorecard was approved, the work to create the tool was organised in four phases:

Phase 1the committee raised different questions to structure the debate. It was a matter of ranking the monitoring priorities in each of the Park’s action registers (conservation, local development, governance and institution management) with regard to the Park’s missions set out in Law No. 2000-24 and the guidelines in management plan 2015-2019.

Phase 2In order to provide elements to answer these questions, around thirty knowledge summary sheets were drawn up. They propose a baseline status based on scientific publications and reports written in the last few years.

Phase 3 Two workshops were organised, one to complete and validate in a participatory manner this state of knowledge and develop priority issues, the other to identify a selection of priority, relevant and operational indicators, based on identified issues.

Phase 4 23 “indicator” sheets (9 for the natural heritage, 7 for the socio-economic dynamics and 7 for the governance of the PNBA) were drafted. Phase 4 finally gave rise to an assessment for each of the indicators with 2016 as the reference year. This assessment presents quite a realistic image of the PNBA’s global management.  This was the steering committee’s main objective: to be transparent by identifying shortfalls in the management, but also by promoting the successes.

As you will have understood, the PNBA’s management effectiveness scorecard is an environmental monitoring tool customised by the Park’s team in order to deal with the various challenges the protected area has to face. To our knowledge, it is the first of its type to be developed for an MPA in West Africa. The PNBA team is ready to share its experience.

Finally, this long-term project would probably never have achieved its goal without the financial support of the BACoMaB (Banc d’Arguin and Coastal and Marine Biodiversity) Trust Fund. It is a profitable investment from all points of view because, beyond being a useful tool to help the establishment with decision-making, this scorecard is an excellent tool for communication with its different partners.

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