Marine protected areas (MPAs) are the cornerstones of today’s marine conservation strategies, promoted by international conservation organizations and implemented around the world to prevent biodiversity loss. If the ecological benefits of MPAs have now been clearly demonstrated, socio-economic effects on human societies located in the vicinity of the MPAs are still poorly understood. Such knowledge is however required to build efficient conservation policies and promote the establishment of new MPAs to meet global conservation targets (30% on land and sea by 2030). Robust impact analysis of long run socio-economic processes requires data available for long time-series, which is rarely met in modern research and in developing countries. As a result, long-term socio-economic effects of MPAs are currently unknown.

This project aims to conduct the first long-term study of the socio-economic effects of MPAs on local human communities. The study will be conducted at a regional level in remote areas of one of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania.

We accessed detailed household survey data (n=749) and statistical analysis of a study conducted in 24 coastal villages of Tanzania and Zanzibar in 2003. This study looked at poverty alleviation related to MPAs. We propose to conduct a follow-up study 18 years later in the same communities, using the same general survey method. Such a study could provide a unique insight into socio-economic benefits of MPAs and has the potential to change the perception from members of other communities in the region.