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Advanced Certificate in Tropical Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Management

  Rufford Small Grants Foundation  


A socio-economic monitoring surveyThe Advanced Certificate in Tropical Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Management is a month-long course that takes place both in the classroom and in the field. Students learn about the ecology of the different ecosystems found around the Madagascar coastline, with a particular focus on mangrove, coral reef and seagrass ecosystems. Additionally students will study species identification, threats to these ecosystems and monitoring techniques, before being given the chance to go and practice these in the field.

We live in a human-dominated world and it is estimated that humans have altered over 75% of the Earth's ice-free land and that no part of the marine realm remains unaffected by anthropogenic activities. For this reason, students will study the human dimensions of ecosystems and the wide and varying influences that human settlement and exploitation of natural resources has on fragile coastal and marine ecosystems. A major factor in environmental management worldwide is how best to mitigate this human influence; how to restore ecosystems that have been previously damaged and protect the natural environment in a future where human influence will only increase and will be compounded by other factors such as climate change.A Coastal Academy lecture The sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems, from ecotourism to ecosystem restoration, will make up a substantial part of the course. Field trips and guest lecturers will complement the core course lectures, giving students an invaluable insight into sustainable practices in the commercial use of natural resources and providing points for comparison, discussion and even criticism.

Conservation efforts are only successful when the needs of those that depend on the resources being conserved are considered at every stage of the planning and implementation processes. This is a fact that has been repeatedly shown to be true and has resulted in the failure of many top-down attempts at 'fortress' conservation. An understanding of biology and ecology will only take conservation so far; the importance of an inter-disciplinary approach that accepts and understand the social and economic values of natural resources cannot be over-emphasised. For this reason, students will learn about the importance of socio-economic research and will practice field techniques, such as creating and carrying out socio-economic surveys in small communities near Diego Suárez, and once back in the classroom will discuss the valuable lessons learned from this.

Students enter data from a seagrass surveyOverall, in the space of just one month, students willgain an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the practicalities - and difficulties - of tropical ecosystem management. They will acquire first-hand experience in an incredible location with the people whose livelihoods both depend on, and often conflict with, the conservation of natural resources. They will discuss, compare, analyse and even argue over the things they see and hear. They will learn to really understand and appreciate the different perspectives of the many stakeholders involved in conservation and environmental management and, as such, will emerge from the course betterqualified, better equipped and overall better prepared for their future careers.

    See the course lecture series here

    Read about the course in Tropical Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Monitoring Methods