An integrated management tool developed for the Great Barrier Reef is being used to help with strategic planning efforts for coastal areas and coral reefs of the Caribbean.
A small volcanic island in the lesser Antillean arc, St Lucia is best known for its clear and calm waters, spectacular pitons, and over 90km2 of coral reefs, attracting tourists and fishers alike. While St Lucia has been a leader in establishing formal management of its reefs and marine environments, notably in the Soufriere area, there is a growing concern about the implications of increasing tourism, rising demand for fish, population growth, escalating risks from development and climate change. Understanding the current state and future outlook of the Soufriere marine area is essential to strategic management of one of the country’s most valuable natural assets.
Under the Australia Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration, we’re working with the Soufriere Marine Management Association and the Piton Management Area to develop an Outlook Report for the Pitons and Soufriere Marine Management Areas in Saint Lucia.
What is an Outlook report?
Outlook reporting is emerging as a valuable tool for assessing ecosystem trajectories and anticipating future threats as a basis for strategic, integrated management of coastal and marine systems. It also has potential to assist with strategic, integrated management of coastal and marine areas in the Caribbean.
Modelled on an approach developed for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Outlook Report follows a DIPSR (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response) framework. It uses this structure to develop an understanding of current conditions of coral reefs in the SMMA, the social and economic linkages to those reefs and the key drivers and pressures affecting them now. This knowledge is then used to project what will change over the next twenty years.
Outlook reporting in Soufriere
While there was wealth of scientific study undertaken in the Soufriere and Piton management areas in the late nineties, the challenge was to obtain more contemporary information. In September 2013 a team of coral reef and social science experts undertook an innovative rapid assessment process that provided a contemporary snapshot. Comprising experts from the Caribbean, North and Central America and the Great Barrier Reef, the team used the Pitons and Soufriere marine management areas as a pilot site for the development of a reef risk and resilience survey framework.
The development of the Outlook report is nearing completion. All the available scientific and expert analysis has been compiled to understand the current state of the Pitons and Soufriere marine management areas, and to understand the drivers and pressures that are impacting on those areas. A workshop will be undertaken later this month with the board of the Soufriere Marine Management Association and a small group of experts to review the information compiled and develop scenarios for possible future outlooks for the marine management areas under a variety of management options.
The Outlook Report for the Piton and Soufriere Marine Management Areas is due for release in May 2014. You can read more about the Outlook Report project here, and learn more about the reefs of St Lucia in our national overview.