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Biodiversity-based propositions of conservation areas in Baa Atoll, Republic of Maldives

By Mélanie A. Hamel and Serge Andrefouet


The Republic of Maldives is an atoll country entirely composed of coral reefs and is vulnerable to the many threats that may impair the resilience of coral reefs. Ongoing projects aim to enhance scientific knowledge of Maldives ecosystems and promote conservation. As a contribution to the Atoll Ecosystem Conservation project (AEC) focused on Baa Atoll, we identified high priority conservation areas using a unique biodiversity dataset (macrophytes, coral, fish, hydrozoans and other select macro-invertebrates census) and detailed habitat maps derived from Landsat and Quickbird satellite imagery. Species richness and distribution were mapped across the atoll and used by sitting algorithms to identify areas of high priority for biodiversity conservation. Algorithms were parameterized with the ConsNet software to meet species representation criteria within a conservation area network as compact as possible. These are conceptually simple classical designs, but they remain surprisingly seldom applied in coral reef conservation management. The design led in Baa to conservation choices likely to be accepted by Maldivian stakeholders. Indeed the recommendations are consistent with parallel AEC recommendations made according to charismatic mega-fauna distribution and tourism industry interests. The Baa Atoll example provides an illustrated step-by-step conservation planning procedure that can be easily replicated elsewhere

Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Year: 2012
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