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Considerable field work is required to understand, study, survey, and monitor species, habitats and ecosystems. Numerous technologies – often developed for other purposes – can help streamline these tasks, making MPA management both effective and efficient.
Adequate technical tools and methods are fundamental to conduct efficient scientific studies and surveys, and hence understand conservation features and processes.
Drawing up inventories of species and mapping habitats are very often the prerequisites to any conservation or management measure. They mobilize a wide range of techniques, from basic divers’ observations to remote sensors and remote-operated vehicles. Protocols must be both scientifically sound and operational for managers. Inventories also present a challenge in terms of data management and their sharing. Due to their cost, they remain a domain where there is room for progress and innovation. Taxonomy deserves special mention when it comes to inventories, and the elaboration of red lists remains a critical tool for conservation.
MPA managers are deeply concerned about impacts, whether of climate change, of terrestrial and marine activities, or of conservation measures. But it often proves difficult to distinguish between the effects of each separate type of pressure, to quantify their impact from an ecological point of view, or to evaluate their cumulative effects. Because impact studies and monitoring strategies and techniques are crucial to managers, they must undergo strict scrutiny, to make sure they are based on reliable data and well-defined indicators.