Wilkinson, C.

Monitoring Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas. A practical guide on how monitoring can support effective management of MPAs


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important tool for marine conservation and management; monitoring plays a critical role in managing these MPAs. Monitoring provides the essential information required to
make management decisions and determine if the decisions are working. Without monitoring, managers are essentially operating in the dark! This book was written in response to requests from many managers of MPAs from around the world who asked for advice on how to design and implement monitoring programs that can help them manage their MPAs more effectively.

The goals of this book are to:

  • Demonstrate how monitoring can play a major role in the effective management of MPAs;
  • Provide advice on which monitoring programs to use to facilitate effective management; and
  • Demonstrate how monitoring has played an important role in the effective management of MPAs using case studies from around the world.

Coral reefs around the world are at risk from many threats including global warming causing coral bleaching, over-fishing or destructive fishing, pollution by sediments, nutrients and toxic chemicals, coral mining
and shoreline development, and unregulated tourism. Monitoring the ecology of the reefs and the socio- economics of the people is the only way to understand the extent, nature and causes of the damage, and to identify ways to address these threats.

How can monitoring assist in the effective management of MPAs? Monitoring assists through the following tasks:

  1. Resource Assessment and Mapping
  2. Resource Status and Long-Term Trends
  3. Status and Long-Term Trends of User Groups
  4. Impacts of Large-Scale Disturbances
  5. Impacts of Human Activities
  6. Performance Evaluation and Adaptive Management
  7. Education and Awareness Raising
  8. Building Resilience into MPAs
  9. Contributing to Regional and Global Networks

This book will provide practical advice on how to design and implement ecological and socio-economic monitoring programs aimed at addressing these issues. Many useful references are included at the back along with Internet sites.

We have used case studies from around the world to illustrate how others have used monitoring to assist them in managing MPAs. There are many useful lessons from these case studies and all contain recommendations for other MPA managers.

The book provides information on many of the organisations involved in coral reef monitoring and management, along with the recommendations on coral reef monitoring and information processing from the recent ITMEMS2 (International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium, 2003) meeting, which featured MPA managers from all over the world.

This is Version 1 of the book being released at the World Parks Congress in Durban South Africa, September 2003. Our intention is to keep it alive and continually update it. This copy will be lodged on the www.reefbase.org, www.gcrmn.org and www.aims.gov.au websites where we want to continually update it for use by MPA managers to improve their management and conservation of coral reefs. 

Data type
Research report
Geographic location

Methods for Ecological Monitoring of Coral Reefs - A Resource for Managers - Version 1

The aim of this book is to help managers of coral reefs select appropriate ecological monitoring programs, protocols and methods for your coral reef management needs. This book was written in response to requests from coral reef managers for advice on monitoring, especially:

  • How monitoring can help management;
  • How to choose the best methods to suit your needs; and
  • The good and bad points and associated costs of a wide range of monitoring methods.

Monitoring can be specific or general. There are different management information needs for each coral reef area,
so monitoring programs must be designed to include a selection of protocols and methods to meet those needs.
The protocols and methods outlined in this book represent the ones most commonly used on coral reefs around the world. Our advice is to use the standard and frequently used methods to monitor your reefs because these have been extensively tested. Using standard methods also means that you will be able to compare the status of your coral reefs with other reefs at regional and global scales. 

Data type
Monitoring protocol
Research and monitoring