Imperial College London

DrMorenaMills

Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Reader in Environmental Policy and Practice
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 7317m.mills Website

 
 
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Location

 

209Weeks BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
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65 results found

Romero-de-Diego C, Dean A, Jagadish A, Witt B, Mascia MB, Mills Met al., 2021, Drivers of adoption and spread of wildlife management initiatives in Mexico, CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, Vol: 3

Journal article

Mills M, Romero C, Dean A, Witt B, Mascia M, Jagadish Aet al., 2021, Drivers of adoption and spread of wildlife management initiatives in Mexico, Conservation Science and Practice, ISSN: 2578-4854

Conservation initiatives rarely achieve the scale required to respond to ongoing biodiversity loss. Understanding what drives the adoption of conservation initiatives provides key insights into how initiatives expand to a scale necessary for effective conservation outcomes. In this article, we identified characteristics of conservation initiatives, adopters, and context that influenced the adoption of extensive Wildlife Management Units (UMAs) in Mexico. We interviewed 22 experts to gather their perceptions about the factors driving the adoption and spread of UMAs, and their interactions. We used Diffusion of Innovation Theory and qualitative data analysis to develop a theory of change based on the experts' perceptions that illustrates what led landholders to adopt UMAs. We found that: (a) the adoption of UMAs depended on the landholders' ability to learn about, register, and implement them; (b) alignment with the landholders' objectives and private tenure facilitated adoption, reflecting the likelihood and ease of participation, respectively; and (c) observability of benefits and the availability of technical advice were key to adoption, influencing the speed of adoption by facilitating learning. Our empirically derived theory of change describing the adoption of UMAs revealed focused and clear hypotheses that can be further tested quantitatively.

Journal article

Salazar G, Ramakrishna I, Satheesh N, Mills M, Monroe MC, Karanth KKet al., 2021, The challenge of measuring children's attitudes toward wildlife in rural India, INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH IN GEOGRAPHICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, ISSN: 1038-2046

Journal article

McCormick H, Salguero-Gomez R, Mills M, Davis Ket al., 2021, Using a residency index to estimate the economic value of coastal habitat provisioning services for commercially important fish species, CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, Vol: 3

Journal article

Qian J, Mills M, Ma H, Turvey STet al., 2021, Assessing the effectiveness of public awareness-raising initiatives for the Hainan gibbon Nomascus hainanus, ORYX, ISSN: 0030-6053

Many protected areas conduct awareness-raising activities to increase local knowledge and support conservation programmes, but the effectiveness of such activities is rarely assessed. Public awareness-raising has been carried out since the early 2000s around Bawangling National Nature Reserve, Hainan, China, to improve conservation knowledge about the Critically Endangered Hainan gibbon Nomascus hainanus, one of the rarest mammals. We conducted 207 interviews in 25 villages around Bawangling National Nature Reserve to evaluate the outcome of previous conservation education, through comparison of variation in local respondent knowledge and attitudes, and specific enquiries about sources of knowledge acquisition. Likelihood of accurate responses to most of our questions regarding the species was positively correlated with local exposure to gibbon-themed billboards and murals, and respondents exhibited greater knowledge about several key conservation indices for gibbons compared to their knowledge about sympatrically occurring rhesus macaques Macaca mulatta. Many respondents specifically reported they knew about local existence, population size, conservation status, and threats to gibbons from past awareness-raising activities, with village education sessions and billboards widely identified as key sources of information. However, other known awareness-raising approaches have had little detectable effect on shaping local conservation awareness. Although educational activities have improved awareness about gibbons and their conservation requirements in relative terms, overall levels of knowledge remain low in many important areas and ongoing improvement of local awareness is still needed, in particular around poorly-understood topics such as gibbon conservation status, rarity and threats, and for socio-demographic groups possessing less conservation knowledge.

Journal article

Mahajan SL, Jagadish A, Glew L, Ahmadia G, Becker H, Fidler RY, Jeha L, Mills M, Cox C, DeMello N, Harborne AR, Masuda YJ, McKinnon MC, Painter M, Wilkie D, Mascia MBet al., 2020, A theory-based framework for understanding the establishment, persistence, and diffusion of community-based conservation, CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, Vol: 3

Journal article

Dunn ME, Mills M, Verissimo D, 2020, Evaluating the impact of the documentary seriesBlue PlanetIIon viewers' plastic consumption behaviors, CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, Vol: 2

Journal article

Mills M, Magris RA, Fuentes MMPB, Bonaldo R, Herbst DF, Lima MCS, Kerber IKG, Gerhardinger LC, de Moura RL, Domit C, Teixeira JB, Pinheiro HT, Vianna G, de Freitas RRet al., 2020, Opportunities to close the gap between science and practice for Marine Protected Areas in Brazil, PERSPECTIVES IN ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION, Vol: 18, Pages: 161-168, ISSN: 2530-0644

Journal article

Archibald CL, Barnes MD, Tulloch AIT, Fitzsimons JA, Morrison TH, Mills M, Rhodes JRet al., 2020, Differences among protected area governance types matter for conserving vegetation communities at-risk of loss and fragmentation, BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, Vol: 247, ISSN: 0006-3207

Journal article

Hintzen RE, Papadopoulou M, Mounce R, Banks-Leite C, Holt RD, Mills M, Knight A, Leroi AM, Rosindell Jet al., 2020, Relationship between conservation biology and ecology shown through machine reading of 32,000 articles, Conservation Biology, Vol: 34, Pages: 721-732, ISSN: 0888-8892

Conservation biology was founded on the idea that efforts to save nature depend on a scientific understanding of how it works. It sought to apply ecological principles to conservation problems. We investigated whether the relationship between these fields has changed over time through machine reading the full texts of 32,000 research articles published in 16 ecology and conservation biology journals. We examined changes in research topics in both fields and how the fields have evolved from 2000 to 2014. As conservation biology matured, its focus shifted from ecology to social and political aspects of conservation. The 2 fields diverged and now occupy distinct niches in modern science. We hypothesize this pattern resulted from increasing recognition that social, economic, and political factors are critical for successful conservation and possibly from rising skepticism about the relevance of contemporary ecological theory to practical conservation. Article Impact statement: Quantitative literature evaluation reveals that the research topics of ecology and conservation biology are drawing apart. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Journal article

Carrasco J, Price V, Tulloch V, Mills Met al., 2020, Selecting priority areas for the conservation of endemic trees species and their ecosystems in Madagascar considering both conservation value and vulnerability to human pressure, Biodiversity and Conservation, Vol: 29, Pages: 1841-1854, ISSN: 0960-3115

Madagascar is one of the most biodiverse countries in Africa, due to its level of endemism and species diversity. However, the pressure of human activities threatens the last patches of natural vegetation in the country and conservation decisions are undertaken with limited data availability. In this study, we use free online datasets to generate distribution models of 1539 endemic trees and prioritise for conservation and restoration considering threat, alongside conservation value and cost. Threats considered include illegal logging, forest degradation and agriculture or slash and burns activities. We found that the areas with the highest potential concentration of species are along the north and south-east of the country where more than 400 tree species can be found. Most scenarios identify a common conservation and restoration priority area along the north east of the country. Our findings guide managers, conservation organizations or governments in decisions about where to invest their limited conservation resources.

Journal article

Strassburg BBN, Beyer HL, Crouzeilles R, Iribarrem A, Barros F, de Siqueira MF, Sánchez-Tapia A, Balmford A, Sansevero JBB, Brancalion PHS, Broadbent EN, Chazdon RL, Filho AO, Gardner TA, Gordon A, Latawiec A, Loyola R, Metzger JP, Mills M, Possingham HP, Rodrigues RR, Scaramuzza CADM, Scarano FR, Tambosi L, Uriarte Met al., 2020, Author Correction: Strategic approaches to restoring ecosystems can triple conservation gains and halve costs., Nat Ecol Evol, Vol: 4

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

Journal article

Davis KJ, Alfaro-Shigueto J, Arlidge WNS, Burton M, Mangel JC, Mills M, Milner-Gulland EJ, Palma Duque J, Romero-de-Diego C, Gelcich Set al., 2020, Disconnects in global discourses—the unintended consequences of marine mammal protection on small-scale fishers

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Globally, the populations of many marine mammals remain of critical concern after centuries of exploitation and hunting. However, some marine mammal populations (e.g. pinnipeds) have largely recovered from exploitation, and interactions between these species and fisheries—particularly small-scale fisheries—is once again of concern globally. The large scope and widespread scale of interactions highlights the local disconnect between two global policies: marine mammal conservation and small-scale fisheries protection. In this research, we explore these conflicting global policies by assessing the perceptions of coastal small-scale fishers in Peru and Chile regarding their interactions with pinnipeds, including the South American sea lion (<jats:italic>Otaria flavescens</jats:italic>) and South American fur seal (<jats:italic>Arctocephalus australis</jats:italic>). We surveyed 301 gill net fishers and assess perceptions using a best-worst scaling methodology. We find that fishers are chiefly concerned with the increase in pinniped populations, perceive that their interactions with pinnipeds have significantly increased over the past 80 years, and report pinniped-driven catch and income losses ≥ 26 per cent. Surprisingly, fishers do not believe that compensation schemes will resolve this issue—instead they overwhelmingly call for pinniped population culls. The reported number of pinnipeds illegally killed by fishers suggests the potential for large negative impacts on these protected species, and a loss of legitimacy in marine regulation. Collectively, our results portray a sense of marginalisation from fishers’—that global policy treats them as less “important” than marine mammals. Our results highlight the increasing disconnect in global policy, which on one hand seeks to protect threatened marine mammal populations, and on the other seeks to

Journal article

Mills M, Bode M, Mascia MB, Weeks R, Gelcich S, Dudley N, Govan H, Archibald CL, Romero-de-Diego C, Holden M, Biggs D, Glew L, Naidoo R, Possingham HPet al., 2019, How conservation initiatives go to scale, Nature Sustainability, Vol: 2, Pages: 935-940, ISSN: 2398-9629

Although a major portion of the planet’s land and sea is managed to conserve biodiversity, little is known about the extent, speed and patterns of adoption of conservation initiatives. We undertook a quantitative exploration of how area-based conservation initiatives go to scale by analysing the adoption of 22 widely recognized and diverse initiatives from across the globe. We use a standardized approach to compare the potential of different initiatives to reach scale. While our study is not exhaustive, our analyses reveal consistent patterns across a variety of initiatives: adoption of most initiatives (82% of our case studies) started slowly before rapidly going to scale. Consistent with diffusion of innovation theory, most initiatives exhibit slow–fast–slow (that is, sigmoidal) dynamics driven by interactions between existing and potential adopters. However, uptake rates and saturation points vary among the initiatives and across localities. Our models suggest that the uptake of most of our case studies is limited; over half of the initiatives will be taken up by <30% of their potential adopters. We also provide a methodology for quantitatively understanding the process of scaling. Our findings inform us how initiatives scale up to widespread adoption, which will facilitate forecasts of the future level of adoption of initiatives, and benchmark their extent and speed of adoption against those of our case studies.

Journal article

Catalano AS, Lyons-White J, Mills MM, Knight ATet al., 2019, Learning from published project failures in conservation, Biological Conservation, Vol: 238, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 0006-3207

Conservation professionals need to know what has worked and what has not when designing, implementing, evaluating and refining conservation projects. Project failure reporting is an important, but largely unexploited, source of learning that capitalizes on the learning opportunity of failure provided through the experience of navigating research-implementation ‘spaces’. Learning from others through reading available literature is one way to supplement learning gained through direct experience. Learning vicariously is especially effective when presenting failure as opposed to success experiences. We reviewed the peer-reviewed conservation science literature to identify the extent and characteristics of failed project reporting, focusing our analysis upon social dimensions as opposed to biological causes, which have been comparatively well addressed. We quantified the degree to which articles reported activities commonly applied to learn from failure in business, medicine, the military and commercial aviation. These included activities for identifying, analyzing, correcting and sharing project failures. We used qualitative thematic analysis to identify the social causes of project failure. Reports of failed project experiences are rare and lack standardization. Human dimensions of project failure, such as stakeholder relationships, are more commonly reported than other causes of failure. The peer-reviewed literature has the potential to become a useful repository of lessons learned from failed projects. However, practical challenges such as identifying individuals' cognitive biases, cultivating psychological safety in teams, mainstreaming systemic team learning behaviors, addressing varied leadership styles, and confronting fear of failure in organizational culture must be overcome if conservation professionals are to effectively navigate research-implementation ‘spaces’.

Journal article

Harris L, Gore M, Mills M, 2019, Compliance with ivory trade regulations in the United Kingdom among traders, Conservation Biology, Vol: 33, Pages: 906-916, ISSN: 0888-8892

Global demand for elephant ivory is contributing to illegal poaching and significant decline of African elephant (Loxondonta africana) populations. To help mitigate decline, countries with legal domestic ivory markets were recommended by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to close domestic markets for commercial trade. However, implementing stricter regulations on wildlife trade does not necessarily mean compliance with rules will follow. Using an online questionnaire, we examined the relationship between self‐reported compliance with ivory trade regulations among 115 ivory traders in the United Kingdom and 4 dimensions (control, deterrence, legitimacy, and social norms) hypothesized to influence compliance with conservation regulations. Although most traders supported regulations, a large number did not always check that they comply with them when trading objects containing ivory. The main factors influencing compliance with ivory trade regulations were traders’ ability to comply and their perceptions of the regulations and punishments to deter illegal trade. These findings demonstrate the utility of conservation criminology to improve wildlife trade regulations and identify opportunities to reduce illegal ivory entering the market in the United Kingdom. Compliance could be improved by clearer regulations that facilitate easier detection of illegal ivory products and stronger prosecution of violations.

Journal article

Kidd LR, Garrard GE, Bekessy SA, Mills M, Camilleri AR, Fidler F, Fielding KS, Gordon A, Gregg EA, Kusmanoff AM, Louis W, Moon K, Robinson JA, Selinske MJ, Shanahan D, Adams VMet al., 2019, Messaging matters: A systematic review of the conservation messaging literature, Biological Conservation, Vol: 236, Pages: 92-99, ISSN: 0006-3207

Changing human behavior and attitudes are key to conserving global biodiversity. Despite evidence from other disciplines that strategic messaging can influence behavior and attitudes, it remains unclear how to best design messages to benefit biodiversity. We conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the status of conservation messaging research, and to evaluate whether studies address essential elements of message design and theory from other disciplines. We show that academic interest in conservation messaging is growing rapidly. However, our results suggest that conservation scientists are not effectively drawing from the long-standing expertise of disciplines with well-established messaging techniques. Many studies do not draw on established behavior change theories or audience segmentation techniques. Given the urgent need to address the loss of biodiversity, we discuss how conservation messaging can draw on existing empirical and theoretical knowledge, with a focus on the application of established techniques used in messaging for pro-environmental behavior.

Journal article

Wilson B, Mills M, Kulikov M, Clubbe Cet al., 2019, The future of walnut-fruit forests in Kyrgyzstan and the status of the iconic Endangered apple Malus niedzwetzkyana, Oryx: journal of fauna and flora international, Vol: 53, Pages: 415-423, ISSN: 0030-6053

Forest ecosystems are rich in biodiversity and provide valuable ecosystem services, but are declining worldwide. Malus niedzwetzkyana, an Endangered wild relative of domesticated apples, is an important component of the walnut–fruit forests of Central Asia. Its iconic pink blossom and genetic properties give it special cultural and scientific significance, but livestock grazing and firewood collection threaten its survival. The conservation of the species and its native forest ecosystem is critical and urgent. This study provides information on the ecology and population of M. niedzwetzkyana and the threats affecting its habitat, improving our understanding of its distribution and proposing measures to reduce threats. We collected ecological data and assessed population structure and threats at four forest sites in southern Kyrgyzstan. We mapped 149 individuals, creating the largest known dataset for this species. We developed species distribution models for M. niedzwetzkyana to identify climatically suitable regions and potential areas for restoration. Sary-Chelek Biosphere Reserve contained the largest expanse of pristine forest and the most stable M. niedzwetzkyana population, followed by Kara-Alma Forestry Unit. Forests in the Gava Forestry Unit and Dashman Reserve were most extensively damaged by humans and livestock. The wild apple's favoured habitat was south-west facing slopes with a gradient < 30° and a relatively open canopy. Overall, the study population was vulnerable to extinction with limited regeneration potential. We recommend short-term population enhancement through planting projects and increased protection of individuals in pristine sites. Community-based conservation initiatives should be prioritized in extensively damaged sites, and larger-scale reforestation of these forests needs to be considered.

Journal article

Ban NC, Gurney GG, Marshall NA, Whitney CK, Mills M, Gelcich S, Bennett NJ, Meehan MC, Butler C, Ban S, Tran TC, Cox ME, Breslow SJet al., 2019, Well-being outcomes of marine protected areas, Nature Sustainability, Vol: 2, Pages: 524-532, ISSN: 2398-9629

Marine protected areas are advocated as a key strategy for simultaneously protecting marine biodiversity and supporting coastal livelihoods, but their implementation can be challenging for numerous reasons, including perceived negative effects on human well-being. We synthesized research from 118 peer-reviewed articles that analyse outcomes related to marine protected areas on people, and found that half of documented well-being outcomes were positive and about one-third were negative. No-take, well-enforced and old marine protected areas had positive human well-being outcomes, which aligns with most findings from ecological studies. Marine protected areas with single zones had more positive effects on human well-being than areas with multiple zones. Most studies focused on economic and governance aspects of well-being, leaving social, health and cultural domains understudied. Well-being outcomes arose from direct effects of marine protected area governance processes or management actions and from indirect effects mediated by changes in the ecosystem. Our findings illustrate that both human well-being and biodiversity conservation can be improved through marine protected areas, yet negative impacts commonly co-occur with benefits.

Journal article

Salazar G, Mills M, Veríssimo D, 2019, Qualitative impact evaluation of a social marketing campaign for conservation, Conservation Biology, Vol: 33, Pages: 634-644, ISSN: 0888-8892

Social marketing campaigns use marketing techniques to influence human behavior for the greater social good. In conservation, social marketing campaigns have been used to influence behavior for the benefit of biodiversity as well as society. However, there are few evaluations of their effectiveness. We used General Elimination Methodology, a theory-driven qualitative evaluation method, to assess the long-term impacts of a social marketing campaign on human behavior and biodiversity. We evaluated a 1998 Rare Pride Campaign on the island of Bonaire, designed to increase the population of the lora (Amazona barbadensis), a threatened parrot species. To evaluate the campaign’s impacts, we interviewed a range of stakeholder groups to understand their perceptions of the drivers of the changes in the lora population over time. We used this data to develop an overall Theory of Change to explain changes in the lora population by looking at the overlap in hypotheses within and between stakeholder groups. We then triangulated that Theory of Change with evidence from government reports, peer-reviewed literature, and newspapers. Our results suggest that the observed increase in the lora population can be largely attributed to a decrease in illegal poaching of loras and an associated decrease in local demand for pet loras. The decreases in both poaching and demand have likely been driven by a combination of law enforcement, social marketing campaigns (including the Rare campaign), and environmental education in schools. General Elimination Methodology proved to be an illuminating post-hoc evaluation method for understanding the complexity around how multiple interventions have influenced conservation outcomes over time. There is a need for evidence-based evaluations of social marketing interventions to ensure that limited resources are spent wisely. Here we present a new approach for evaluating the influences of social marketing campaigns on both human behavior

Journal article

Adams VM, Mills M, Weeks R, Segan DB, Pressey RL, Gurney GG, Groves C, Davis FW, Alvarez-Romero JGet al., 2019, Implementation strategies for systematic conservation planning, Ambio, Vol: 48, Pages: 139-152, ISSN: 0044-7447

The field of systematic conservation planning has grown substantially, with hundreds of publications in the peer-reviewed literature and numerous applications to regional conservation planning globally. However, the extent to which systematic conservation plans have influenced management is unclear. This paper analyses factors that facilitate the transition from assessment to implementation in conservation planning, in order to help integrate assessment and implementation into a seamless process. We propose a framework for designing implementation strategies, taking into account three critical planning aspects: processes, inputs, and context. Our review identified sixteen processes, which we broadly grouped into four themes and eight inputs. We illustrate how the framework can be used to inform context-dependent implementation strategies, using the process of ‘engagement’ as an example. The example application includes both lessons learned from successfully implemented plans across the engagement spectrum, and highlights key barriers that can hinder attempts to bridge the assessment-implementation gap.

Journal article

Biggs D, Ban NC, Castilla JC, Gelcich S, Mills M, Gandiwa E, Etienne M, Knight AT, Marquet PA, Possingham HPet al., 2019, Insights on fostering the emergence of robust conservation actions from Zimbabwe's CAMPFIRE program, Global Ecology and Conservation, Vol: 17, ISSN: 2351-9894

One strategy to address threats to biodiversity in the face of ongoing budget constraints is to create an enabling environment that facilitates individuals, communities and other groups to self-organise to achieve conservation outcomes. Emergence (new activities and initiatives), and robustness (durability of these activities and initiatives over time), two related concepts from the common pool resources literature, provide guidance on how to support and enable such self-organised action for conservation. To date emergence has received little attention in the literature. Our exploratory synthesis of the conditions for emergence from the literature highlighted four themes: for conservation to emerge, actors need to 1) recognise the need for change, 2) expect positive outcomes, 3) be able to experiment to achieve collective learning, and 4) have legitimate local scale governance authority. Insights from the literature on emergence and robustness suggest that an appropriate balance should be maintained between external guidance of conservation and enabling local actors to find solutions appropriate to their contexts. We illustrate the conditions for emergence, and its interaction with robustness, through discussing the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe and reflect on efforts at strengthening local autonomy and management around the world. We suggest that the delicate balance between external guidance of actions, and supporting local actors to develop their own solutions, should be managed adaptively over time to support the emergence of robust conservation actions.

Journal article

Strassburg BBN, Beyer HL, Crouzeilles R, Iribarrem A, Barros F, de Siqueira MF, Sanchez-Tapia A, Balmford A, Barreto Sansevero JB, Santin Brancalion PH, Broadbent EN, Chazdon RL, Oliveira Filho A, Gardner T, Gordon A, Latawiec A, Loyola R, Metzger JP, Mills M, Possingham HP, Rodrigues RR, de Mattos Scaramuzza CA, Scarano FR, Tambosi L, Uriarte Met al., 2019, Strategic approaches to restoring ecosystems can triple conservation gains and halve costs, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 3, Pages: 62-70, ISSN: 2397-334X

International commitments for ecosystem restoration add up to one-quarter of the world’s arable land. Fulfilling them would ease global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity decline but could displace food production and impose financial costs on farmers. Here, we present a restoration prioritization approach capable of revealing these synergies and trade-offs, incorporating ecological and economic efficiencies of scale and modelling specific policy options. Using an actual large-scale restoration target of the Atlantic Forest hotspot, we show that our approach can deliver an eightfold increase in cost-effectiveness for biodiversity conservation compared with a baseline of non-systematic restoration. A compromise solution avoids 26% of the biome’s current extinction debt of 2,864 plant and animal species (an increase of 257% compared with the baseline). Moreover, this solution sequesters 1 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (a 105% increase) while reducing costs by US$28 billion (a 57% decrease). Seizing similar opportunities elsewhere would offer substantial contributions to some of the greatest challenges for humankind.

Journal article

Alvarez-Romero JG, Mills M, Adams VM, Gurney GG, Pressey RL, Weeks R, Ban NC, Cheok J, Davies TE, Day JC, Hamel MA, Leslie HM, Magris RA, Storlie CJet al., 2018, Research advances and gaps in marine planning: towards a global database in systematic conservation planning, Biological Conservation, Vol: 227, Pages: 369-382, ISSN: 0006-3207

Systematic conservation planning (SCP) has increasingly been used to prioritize conservation actions, including the design of new protected areas to achieve conservation objectives. Over the last 10 years, the number of marine SCP studies has increased exponentially, yet there is no structured or reliable way to find information on methods, trends, and progress. The rapid growth in methods and marine applications warrants an updated analysis of the literature, as well as reflection on the need for continuous and systematic documentation of SCP exercises in general. To address these gaps, we developed a database to document SCP exercises and populated it with 155 marine SCP exercises found in the primary literature. Based on our review, we provide an update on global advances and trends in marine SCP literature. We found accelerating growth in the number of studies over the past decade, with increasing consideration of socioeconomic variables, land-sea planning, and ecological connectivity. While several studies aimed to inform conservation decisions, we found little evidence of input from practitioners. There are important gaps in geographic coverage and little correspondence with areas most threatened. Five countries lead most studies, but their networks suggest potential for capacity building through collaborations. The varying quality and detail in documentation of studies confirmed the limited opportunities to develop and assess the application of best practice in conservation planning. A global database to track the development, implementation, and impact of SCP applications can thus provide numerous benefits. Our database constitutes an important step towards the development of a centralized repository of information on planning exercises and can serve several roles to advance SCP theory and practice: it facilitates assessing geographic coverage and gaps; scientists and practitioners can access information to identify trends in the use of data, methods, and to

Journal article

Teixeira JB, Moura RL, Mills M, Klein C, Brown CJ, Adams VM, Grantham H, Watts M, Faria D, Amado-Filho GM, Bastos AC, Lourival R, Possingham HPet al., 2018, A habitat-based approach to predict impacts of marine protected areas on fishers, Conservation Biology, Vol: 32, Pages: 1096-1106, ISSN: 0888-8892

Although marine protected areas can simultaneously contribute to biodiversity conservation and fisheries management, the global network is biased toward particular ecosystem types because they have been established primarily in an ad hoc fashion. The optimization of trade‐offs between biodiversity benefits and socioeconomic values increases success of protected areas and minimizes enforcement costs in the long run, but it is often neglected in marine spatial planning (MSP). Although the acquisition of spatially explicit socioeconomic data is perceived as a costly or secondary step in MSP, it is critical to account for lost opportunities by people whose activities will be restricted, especially fishers. We developed an easily reproduced habitat‐based approach to estimate the spatial distribution of opportunity cost to fishers in data‐poor regions. We assumed the most accessible areas have higher economic and conservation values than less accessible areas and their designation as no‐take zones represents a loss of fishing opportunities. We estimated potential distribution of fishing resources from bathymetric ranges and benthic habitat distribution and the relative importance of the different resources for each port of total catches, revenues, and stakeholder perception. In our model, we combined different cost layers to produce a comprehensive cost layer so that we could evaluate of trade‐offs. Our approach directly supports conservation planning, can be applied generally, and is expected to facilitate stakeholder input and community acceptance of conservation.

Journal article

Guerrero AM, Bennett NJ, Wilson KA, Carter N, Gill D, Mills M, Ives CD, Selinske MJ, Larrosa C, Bekessy S, Januchowski-Hartley FA, Travers H, Wyborn CA, Nuno Aet al., 2018, Achieving the promise of integration in social-ecological research: a review and prospectus, Ecology and Society: a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability, Vol: 23, ISSN: 1195-5449

An integrated understanding of both social and ecological aspects of environmental issues is essential to address pressing sustainability challenges. An integrated social-ecological systems perspective is purported to provide a better understanding of the complex relationships between humans and nature. Despite a threefold increase in the amount of social-ecological research published between 2010 and 2015, it is unclear whether these approaches have been truly integrative. We conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the conceptual, methodological, disciplinary, and functional aspects of social-ecological integration. In general, we found that overall integration is still lacking in social-ecological research. Some social variables deemed important for addressing sustainability challenges are underrepresented in social-ecological studies, e.g., culture, politics, and power. Disciplines such as ecology, urban studies, and geography are better integrated than others, e.g., sociology, biology, and public administration. In addition to ecology and urban studies, biodiversity conservation plays a key brokerage role in integrating other disciplines into social-ecological research. Studies founded on systems theory have the highest rates of integration. Highly integrative studies combine different types of tools, involve stakeholders at appropriate stages, and tend to deliver practical recommendations. Better social-ecological integration must underpin sustainability science. To achieve this potential, future social-ecological research will require greater attention to the following: the interdisciplinary composition of project teams, strategic stakeholder involvement, application of multiple tools, incorporation of both social and ecological variables, consideration of bidirectional relationships between variables, and identification of implications and articulation of clear policy recommendations.Key words: human-environment systems; interdisciplinary; soc

Journal article

de Paula Costa MD, Mills M, Richardson AJ, Fuller RA, Muelbert JH, Possingham HPet al., 2018, Efficiently enforcing artisanal fisheries to protect estuarine biodiversity, Ecological Applications, Vol: 28, Pages: 1450-1458, ISSN: 1051-0761

Artisanal fisheries support millions of livelihoods worldwide, yet ineffective enforcement can allow for continued environmental degradation due to overexploitation. Here, we use spatial planning to design an enforcement strategy for a pre‐existing spatial closure for artisanal fisheries considering climate variability, existing seasonal fishing closures, representative conservation targets and enforcement costs. We calculated enforcement cost in three ways, based on different assumptions about who could be responsible for monitoring the fishery. We applied this approach in the Patos Lagoon estuary (Brazil), where we found three important results. First, spatial priorities for enforcement were similar under different climate scenarios. Second, we found that the cost and percentage of area enforced varied among scenarios tested by the conservation planning analysis, with only a modest increase in budget needed to incorporate climate variability. Third, we found that spatial priorities for enforcement depend on whether enforcement is carried out by a central authority or by the community itself. Here, we demonstrated a method that can be used to efficiently design enforcement plans, resulting in the conservation of biodiversity and estuarine resources. Also, cost of enforcement can be potentially reduced when fishers are empowered to enforce management within their fishing grounds.

Journal article

Giakoumi S, McGowan J, Mills M, Beger M, Bustamante RH, Charles A, Christie P, Fox M, Garcia-Borboroglu P, Gelcich S, Guidetti P, Mackelworth P, Maina JM, McCook L, Micheli F, Morgan LE, Mumby PJ, Reyes LM, White A, Grorud-Colvert K, Possingham HPet al., 2018, Revisiting "success" and "failure" marine protected areas: a conservation scientist perspective, Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2296-7745

Marine protected areas (MPAs) form the cornerstone of marine conservation. Identifying which factors contribute to their success or failure is crucial considering the international conservation targets for 2020 and the limited funds generally available for marine conservation. We identified common factors of success and/or failure of MPA effectiveness using peer-reviewed publications and first-hand expert knowledge for 27 case studies around the world. We found that stakeholder engagement was considered to be the most important factor affecting MPA success, and equally, its absence, was the most important factor influencing failure. Conversely, while some factors were identified as critical for success, their absence was not considered a driver of failure, and vice versa. This mismatch provided the impetus for considering these factors more critically. Bearing in mind that most MPAs have multiple objectives, including non-biological, this highlights the need for the development and adoption of standardized effectiveness metrics, besides biological considerations, to measure factors contributing to the success or failure of MPAs to reach their objectives. Considering our conclusions, we suggest the development of specific protocols for the assessment of stakeholder engagement, the role of leadership, the capacity of enforcement and compliance with MPAs objectives. Moreover, factors defining the success and failure of MPAs should be assessed not only by technical experts and the relevant authorities, but also by other stakeholder groups whose compliance is critical for the successful functioning of an MPA. These factors should be considered along with appropriate ecological, social, and economic data and then incorporated into adaptive management to improve MPA effectiveness.

Journal article

Mascia MB, Mills M, 2018, When conservation goes viral: the diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices, Conservation Letters, Vol: 11, ISSN: 1755-263X

Despite billions of dollars invested, “getting to scale” remains a fundamental challenge for conservation donors and practitioners. Occasionally, however, a conservation intervention will “go viral,” with rapid, widespread adoption that transforms the relationship between people and nature across large areas. The factors that shape rates and patterns of conservation interventions remain unclear, puzzling scientists and hindering evidence‐based policymaking. Diffusion of innovation theory—the study of the how and why innovations are adopted, and the rates and patterns of adoption—provides a novel lens for examining rates and patterns in the establishment of conservation interventions. Case studies from Tanzania and the Pacific illustrate that characteristics of the innovation, of the adopters, and of the social‐ecological context shape spatial and temporal dynamics in the diffusion of community‐centered conservation interventions. Differential trends in adoption mirrored the relative advantage of interventions to local villagers and villager access to external technical assistance. Theories of innovation diffusion highlight new arenas for conservation research and provide critical insights for conservation policy and practice, suggesting the potential to empower donors and practitioners with the ability to catalyze conservation at scale—and to do so at less cost and with longer‐lasting impacts.

Journal article

Saunders MI, Bode M, Atkinson S, Klein CJ, Metaxas A, Beher J, Beger M, Mills M, Giakoumi S, Tulloch V, Possingham HPet al., 2017, Simple rules can guide whether land- or ocean-based conservation will best benefit marine ecosystems, PLoS Biology, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1544-9173

Coastal marine ecosystems can be managed by actions undertaken both on the land and in the ocean. Quantifying and comparing the costs and benefits of actions in both realms is therefore necessary for efficient management. Here, we quantify the link between terrestrial sediment runoff and a downstream coastal marine ecosystem and contrast the cost-effectiveness of marine- and land-based conservation actions. We use a dynamic land- and sea-scape model to determine whether limited funds should be directed to 1 of 4 alternative conservation actions—protection on land, protection in the ocean, restoration on land, or restoration in the ocean—to maximise the extent of light-dependent marine benthic habitats across decadal timescales. We apply the model to a case study for a seagrass meadow in Australia. We find that marine restoration is the most cost-effective action over decadal timescales in this system, based on a conservative estimate of the rate at which seagrass can expand into a new habitat. The optimal decision will vary in different social–ecological contexts, but some basic information can guide optimal investments to counteract land- and ocean-based stressors: (1) marine restoration should be prioritised if the rates of marine ecosystem decline and expansion are similar and low; (2) marine protection should take precedence if the rate of marine ecosystem decline is high or if the adjacent catchment is relatively intact and has a low rate of vegetation decline; (3) land-based actions are optimal when the ratio of marine ecosystem expansion to decline is greater than 1:1.4, with terrestrial restoration typically the most cost-effective action; and (4) land protection should be prioritised if the catchment is relatively intact but the rate of vegetation decline is high. These rules of thumb illustrate how cost-effective conservation outcomes for connected land–ocean systems can proceed without complex modelling.

Journal article

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