Collaboration and partnership to protect Marine Natura 2000 sites
There are several Natura 2000 sites along the coastline of Pembrokeshire in Wales, UK, which aim to protect species like the grey seal, bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise, chough, manx shearwater, puffin, razorbill and others. However, the Pembrokeshire coastline is also very popular with people, attracting a lot of tourists, so it is a source of revenue for the local population. Heavy tourism pressure was causing significant disturbances to the above-mentioned species.
In order to secure an integrated approach to the management and sustainable development of coastal and marine areas, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum (PCF), a not-for-profit independent company, embraced an alternative approach. In the last 10 years, the PCF has been working with all relevant stakeholders — commercial companies such as outdoor activity business operators, regional and national statutory bodies including the Welsh government, park authorities, etc., NGOs and charities — to develop voluntary codes of conduct and to provide educational and communication resources aimed at minimising disturbances to wildlife and reconciling local interests.
As a result, codes of conduct specific to each activity have been jointly developed and agreed upon through focused working groups involving conservationists, landowners, managers and businesses such as recreational operators. As a result, voluntary seasonal access restrictions to sensitive areas for marine species are now in place. Over 1 400 instructors, boat skippers and conservationists have attended environmental training sessions. The code of conduct and good practices aimed at minimising disturbances to wildlife have been developed and promoted among visitors and marina users.
The success of this approach lies on the consensus and trusted relationships among all stakeholders, given that users are now aware that their livelihood relies on the healthy conservation status of the species within the Natura 2000 sites.