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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project
(2025)

Conservation Gap Analysis and the Business Case for Protecting Surf Ecosystems

Drone shot of surfers in the water

Group Members: Ryan Anderson, Manuela Díaz, Sofia Gutierrez, Miranda Scalzo, Emma Tao

Faculty Advisors: Hunter Lenihan

Client: Conservation International Indonesia

Deliverables:

Proposal

Description

Surf Protected Area Networks (SPANs) serve as an approach to marine and coastal conservation that combines legal protection for ecosystems with a framework of sustainable community development. Protection of surf ecosystems is valuable not only in providing recreation but also in supporting the health of the local environment and social benefits to community members. The majority of surf breaks found around the world overlap with or exist in close proximity to major regions of marine biodiversity. Presence of high quality surf locations is associated with higher economic growth for surrounding communities. Our project aims to create a comprehensive business case for protecting high-priority surf ecosystems in Sumatra, Indonesia. For this project, we will:

1) Identify high-priority surf ecosystems for conservation

2) Analyze the economic requirements of implementing SPANs in high-priority areas

3) Assess the economic, social, and ecological benefits of SPANs

4) Build a business case for expanding SPANs networks on a global scale

This work contributes to advancing surf ecosystem conservation locally and supports the broader Global Action Plan for surf conservation. Our findings will contribute to the expansion of Conservation International’s Global Action Plan for the conservation and sustainable financing of surf ecosystems, as well as develop a methodology for applying the SPAN approach to other locations.

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