This application is to facilitate Hub engagement with Parks Australia during development and initiation of their Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) System for Australian Marine Parks. A key priority for the Marine Parks Branch over the next 18 months is finalising the Australian Marine Park MERI System. The Marine Biodiversity Hub will play an important role in development and implementation of this system. Hub partners have had previous experience in developing the integrated monitoring framework for the Great Barrier Reef, developing a process for identifying indicators for monitoring Key Ecological Features, and also have collected much of the ecological data that exists within Australian Marine Parks.
Parks Australia is currently developing a MERI System to support adaptive management of Australian Marine Parks. Parks Australia would like to utilise the Marine Biodiversity Hub’s previous work and experience in identifying key values and pressures relevant to the Australian Marine Parks, and developing integrated monitoring and reporting programs, to assist with the development of the MERI System.
In discussions with Parks Australia, to ensure the MERI system is optimally integrated with current scientific knowledge and capability, there are a number of tasks and information needs that the Hub is well positioned to provide assistance with, these include:
- Review the ‘common language’ proposed for Australian Marine Parks, including natural values and pressures classifications, hierarchies and definitions.
- Coordinate the inputs of the MBH to the identification of natural values, pressures and human uses within Australian Marine Parks and, where required, coordinate the provision of spatial data layers from existing and previous projects for incorporation into Parks Australia’s spatial information systems (i.e. Wylie) and other mapping portals.
- Review conceptual models developed for each of the key ecosystems across the Australian Marine Park networks.
- Review ecological risk assessments for natural values and pressures.
- Provide advice on the process and criteria for identifying monitoring and inventory priorities.
- Coordinate with project SS2 to develop detailed conceptual models for areas identified as monitoring priorities for selected AMP Networks.
- Contribute to the development of monitoring questions.
- Provide advice on the process and selection criteria for identifying appropriate value and pressure indicators (noting that the NESP D6 project is helping to identify appropriate social and economic indicators and measures).
- Provide advice on best practice approaches for assessing management effectiveness.
- Identify the suitability of existing data sets to support the identified monitoring priorities.
- Provide advice on evaluation and reporting including best approaches for using a combination of quantitative data and expert opinion, and to help ensure alignment and consistency across objectives, key evaluation questions and reporting.
- Provide marine park pressure profiles for each AMP Network describing the state of pressure in each network and the trends (where possible).
This project is required to provide relevant expertise to assist Parks Australia when and where input is needed and to cover the time and travel costs of this engagement as it arises. The project plan is broadly stated to provide sufficient flexibility to identify and address priority tasks/needs for developing and implementing the MERI framework. The project team will work closely with Parks Australia and other research-users to scope and develop the project and shape project outputs to meet research-users needs. Knowledge brokering and communication will be conducted in accordance with the Hub’s Knowledge Brokering and Communication Strategy. Priority tasks for this project will emerge after Parks Australia complete their initial draft MERI Framework (expected in December 2019, see Figs. 1 & 2 below for a schematic of the MERI system and adaptive management framework), and be followed by a series of discussions and workshops as required to focus the Hub’s contributions and ensure tasks can be achieved within the limitations of the project (i.e. within the project’s allocated budget and timeline). It is anticipated there will numerous meetings and likely to be between 3-4 workshops to address priority tasks.
The governance arrangement for this project (a steering group, including Parks Australia representatives), will ensure the timely contribution to the development of the MERI System within the budget allocated. This process will ensure that engagement and feedback processes can be planned prior to the formal start of the project.