3 Mar 2019 - This year, World Wildlife Day will celebrate life in the world’s oceans. It’s a fitting tribute. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the world’s surface, harbor hundreds of thousands of species, and provide important resources to coastal communities that house more than 35 percent of the global population.
Oceans also face significant threats, including overexploitation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are central to the efforts to protect Earth’s seas and the wildlife that call them home. In recent years, there has been a surge in their creation, spurred on by a global goal to secure 10 percent of the world’s seas, and all they provide, by 2020. Peoples, governments, and organizations everywhere have mobilized to make this a reality in their own countries and regions.
In order for this strategy to succeed, though, new and existing MPAs must be managed effectively. That’s not yet occurring in many cases. Often, small teams of rangers and managers are understaffed, poorly equipped, and don’t have basic information on the damaging activities that are happening.
Conservation groups are turning to tech solutions to generate such knowledge and make it accessible to others. The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) was developed by the SMART Partnership, a collaboration of nine global conservation organizations, to improve the performance of protected areas, both on land and at sea, and better use limited resources.
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Photo © Caleb McClennen/WCS.