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BOX 9.2

National Marine Sanctuary

Ocean ecosystems face growing threats globally from overfishing, habitat damage, pollution, and especially acidification (Halpern et al., 2008). As a result, the persistence of several marine species is at risk, and ecosystem services provided by intact coastal ecosystems could be compromised. Compared to the land, a minute fraction of the sea is set aside for protection. In response to growing threats, a number of nations, including the United States, are establishing networks of new marine protected areas (MPAs) with special protections (Airame et al., 2003; Fernandes et al., 2005). In the United States, the largest network of MPAs is being established along the coast of California, where dozens of new protected areas are currently being designed and implemented.

Although MPAs can be dramatically successful at restoring depleted ocean ecosystems (Lester et al., 2009), many questions remain:

  • Will the effectiveness of MPAs be compromised by climate change, ocean acidification and/or the migration of marine species outside the boundaries of protected areas?

  • MPA network design is based on where species occur today, not where they will be driven by future climate shifts—will the expected conservation gains from MPA networks go unrealized as the seascape shifts?

  • Alternatively, could large networks of MPAs along entire coastlines provide protected havens to aid species driven poleward by shifting climate?

  • Does uncertainty about future climate change increase the need for MPAs as a hedging strategy?

ogy, vegetation dynamics, and disturbances such as fire need to be further developed and included in advanced Earth systems models.


Assess the potential of land and ocean ecosystems to limit or buffer impacts of climate change. How can specific land uses (including managed and unmanaged forests and grasslands, agricultural systems, fisheries, urban systems, and aquatic systems) be managed for provisioning services as well as for their effects on GHG emissions, carbon storage, reflectivity, and evapotranspiration? What ecosystem management strategies can provide co-benefits that meet multiple goals, including carbon storage, biodiversity conservation, and watershed protection? To address these questions, new tools and approaches need to be developed for evaluating different land and ocean uses for their potential in helping to limit the magnitude of climate change. Such research needs to address the trade-offs between alternative land management options, including economic costs and impacts on ecosystem services that are difficult



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