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Wetlands and Coastal Zones Bulletin
Volume 1, No. 2

Technical Communiqués

Projects in Central America

Sustainable Conservation of Marine Biodiversity Linking Marine-Coastal Tourism with Marine Protected Areas

Start: January 1998
Anticipated conclusion: December 2000
Coordinators: Francisco Pizarro
Néstor Windevoxhel


BelizeThere is an urgent need to ensure the ecological and economic sustainability of marine biodiversity conservation. This project will aim at and demonstrate the sustainability of marine biodiversity conservation through the integration of coastal tourism development and activities of marine protected areas in two specific case studies.

Many marine protected areas (MPAs) are connected with tourism activities, even though these areas may be developed independently. Coastal communities have often been marginalized by tourism and MPAs, and this has resulted in greater environmental degradation, a reduction in resources and conflicts.


Contribute to the conservation of marine biodiversity that is ecologically and economically sustainable, through the integrated development of coastal tourism and marine protected areas.


  • Assess the relations, including impacts, between coastal ecosystems (terrestrial, wetlands and marine) that are important for the integrated development of tourism and MPAs
  • Assess the role of local communities in coastal tourism and MPAs
  • Design and carry out strategies for conserving marine biodiversity through demonstration activities that link marine-coastal tourism and MPA, with participation by local communities
  • Facilitate participation between two regions (East Africa and Central America) in experiences obtained during project implementation and make use of lessons learned that may have universal application.

The project will evaluate the impact of tourism on marine biodiversity and coastal communities in two regions, Central America and East Africa. For items stemming from the evaluation, an integrated and cooperative approach toward the development of tourism and protected areas will be demonstrated in two specific areas, one in each region. Specific on-site activities will be implemented by national experts and, if necessary, by external initiatives. Project performance will be monitored closely by IUCN. Based on the experiences generated, strategies and lines of work will be designed, emphasizing a comprehensive and cooperative approach toward the development of tourism and protected areas.

The project is expected to continue aiming at conservation of marine biodiversity, strengthening of regional and extra-regional cooperation, and improvement of South-South collaboration. This will demonstrate to the private sector the potential it possesses for contributing to marine conservation. Experiences learned through implementation of the project will have national, regional and global application. Lines produced by the project will have applications in other regions.

Wetlands Work Groups
in Mesoamerica
Gulf of Fonseca

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