Morena is currently finishing her PhD in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. Her current work focuses on how to best inform the systematic conservation planning process to facilitate the implementation of effective and cost-efficient conservation initiatives. She has experience working closely with government, conservation NGOs, subsistence and commercial fishermen in marine resource management issues. Morena is supervised by Prof. Bob Pressey, Dr. Natalie Ban, Dr Simon Foale and Dr. Andrew Knight.
Opportunistic conservation actions are taken with the support of communities and understanding of values and opportunity costs. However, they might not contribute to regional objectives. Regional systematic conservation plans, although seldom fully implemented, help to guide decisions about conservation investments by exploring spatial and temporal options to achieve regional objectives. The marginal benefits of systematic methods over opportunistic establishment of protected areas are rarely measured and likely to be context specific. However, this understanding is crucial to make wise investments with limited conservation resources. We use a prospective approach to assess the contributions of regional conservation planning to Fiji. Trying to meet national conservation goals while relying heavily on community-based conservation. We use data on established management and key informant interviews to simulate the expansion of community-based MPAs. We then use Marxan with Zones to design a theoretically optimal MPA network for Fiji given the equivalent constraints to those used in the simulation of opportunistic action. We highlight differences between our simulated MPA expansion and a theoretically optimal MPA solution and discuss how each inform a more integrated approach to conservation, leveraging local conservation actions to meet regional objectives.