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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Integrating Ecosystem Services into a Prioritization Model for Surf Protected Areas

waves crashing on the coastline with two surfers on the wave.

Group Members: Kort Alexander, Sachiko Lamen, Kiera Matiska, Conner Smith , Kirsten White

Faculty Advisors: Ben Halpern

Client: Surf Conservation Partnership



Final Report

Executive Summary

Final Presentation


This project evaluated potential and priority locations for the establishment of Surf Protected  Areas (SPAs) along the entire coastline of Brazil. To conduct this assessment, we 1) assessed the  quality of Brazilian surf breaks using the established Surf Conservation Index (SCI) developed  by the Save the Waves, a member of the Surf Conservation Partnership (SCP), and 2) expanded  the SCI with the addition of two key ecosystem service assessments for mangrove carbon storage  and coastal protection. This assessment created a list of top surf spots for priority conservation  based on a ranking system that included aspects such as wave quality, biodiversity, social, and  economic significance. The addition of the ecosystem service assessment suggests that surf  ecosystems in Brazil provide significant carbon storage and coastal protection and changed  which sites were considered the highest priority for conservation. This result has significant implications for the management of surf resources. Additionally, we conducted a review of existing surf conservation projects to distill good practices in the field of surf conservation and  management. Surfing will likely continue to be leveraged as a vehicle for conservation in the  future; understanding broader implications of this work and developing clear guidelines is key  for scaling up programs like the SCP. 


Bren School of Environmental Science & Management: Allie Caughman, Ph.D Student; Ben Halpern, Professor; Kelsey Jack, Associate Professor

Conservation International: Scott Atkinson, Marissa Miller, Luisa Tam 

Save the Waves Coalition: Mara Arroyo Rodríguez, Diego Sancho Gallegos, Marcos “Kito” Aurélio Gungel, Andrew McKinnon 

Conservation International Brazil: Renata Pereira, Akel Saliba, Bruno Coutinho, Maria  Martinez, Iaci Penteado, Guilherme Durta 

Aprender Ecologica: Mauro Figueiredo, Fabricio Almeida 

Jess Ponting, Associate Professor, San Diego State University 

Andy Abel, Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea

Ed Atkin, eCoast 

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