2013 Milstein Science Symposium

Understanding Ecological and Social Resilience in Island Systems: Informing Policy and Sharing Lessons for Management

In Spring 2013, the CBC and partners organized a three-day symposium that brought together local resource managers, researchers, educators, island leaders, policy makers, and other leading conservation practitioners to present and analyze real-world resilience case studies. Central to the symposium was understanding resilience - the ability of ecological and social systems to absorb, resist, or recover from stressors and adapt to change while maintaining critical ecosystem functions and benefits.

Island ecosystems present unique challenges for conservation due to distinctive ecological and evolutionary processes and vulnerability to threats. The Milstein Science Symposium explored case studies that exemplify responses to disturbance of change in order to elucidate patterns and processes that foster resilience.  Through sharing lessons learned and fostering networks of island managers that are addressing similar challenges, the symposium deepened manager insight into how to promote the resilience of coastal systems, particularly in tropical small island nations, as well as strengthen networks among island leaders, international scientists, and policymakers, paving the way for ongoing collaboration in the future.

The Milstein Science Symposium is proudly sponsored by the Irma and Paul Milstein Family.


Keynote Presentation - Tuesday, April 9th

Navigating an Era of Unprecedented Change: the Rise of Resilience and Its Importance to Islands 

Paul Marshall, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Nadine Marshall, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)


Invited Talks - Tuesday, April 9th

Socio-Ecological Resilience in Pacific Island Traditional and Contemporary Contexts

Stacy Jupiter, Wildlife Conservation Society

Environmental Displacement and Cultural Resilience: the Banabans of Ocean Island and Rabi

Dr. Katerina Teaiwa, Australian National University

Making It Easier to Manage Reefs for Resilience: A Framework For Interpretation of Resilience Assessment Scores

Sangeeta Mangubhai, The Nature Conservancy

Building Reef Resilience Capacity at a Local Scale

Naneng Setiasih, Coral Reef Alliance 


Case Study Presentations - Tuesday, April 9th 

Supporting Resilient Systems in the Bay Islands, Honduras

Jenny Myton, Coral Reef Alliance

An Integrated Framework for Assessing and Managing Data-Limited Fish Stocks

Kendra Karr, Environmental Defense Fund 

Managing for Resilience Using Directed Monitoring Efforts and Community Engagement at the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA)

Russell Sparks, Division of Aquatic Resources, State of Hawaii 

Managing Identity in the Midst of Globalization

Mae Adams, Micronesia Program, The Nature Conservancy 

Ecological and Social Resilience in Island Systems: Case Study Of Lakshadweep

Vineeta Hoon, Centre for Action Research on Environment Science and Society, India 

Integrated Indigenous Management of Land and Marine Protected Areas in Taiarapu, Tahiti

Tokainiua Devatine, Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement (CRIOBE) 


Panel Discussions - Tuesday, April 9th 

What Is the Role of Science in Managing for Resilience?

  • Eleanor J. Sterling (moderator), American Museum of Natural History Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Mae Adams, The Nature Conservancy
  • Tadzio Bervoets, St. Maarten Nature Foundation
  • Sangeeta Mangubhai, The Nature Conservancy
  • Hinano Teavai Murphy, University of California Berkeley
  • Hugh Possingham, University of Queensland and Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
  • Stuart Sandin, University of California San Diego
  • Stephanie Wear, The Nature Conservancy 

Resilience in the Solomon Islands: Common Threads, Trade-offs, and Unanticipated Outcomes

  • Christopher Filardi (moderator), American Museum of Natural History Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Simon Albert, University of Queensland
  • Matthew Lauer, Sand Diego State University
  • Senoveva Mauli, The Nature Conservancy
  • Patrick Pikacha, Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership 

Invited Talks - Wednesday, April 10th

Evolutionary Processes Fostering Resilience on Islands

Scott V. Edwards, Harvard University

Prioritizing Conservation Actions for Island Marine Ecosystems

Hugh Possingham, University of Queensland, Australia and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

Fostering Manager Voices to Inform Global Policy

Peter Kenilorea, UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States


Case Study Presentations - Wednesday, April 10th

Speyside Marine Area Community Based Management Project: A Case Study for Socio-Ecological Resilience in Tobago (Southern Caribbean)

Jahson Alemu, Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago

Climate Change Adaptation: Local Solutions For A Global Problem In A Popular Tourism Destination

Derta Prabuning, Reefcheck, Bali

Coral Reef Resilience to Climate Change in Saipan, CNMI: Field-Based Assessments and Implications for Vulnerability and Future Management

Steven Johnson, Division of Environmental Quality, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Notes from a Floating Island

Carlos Mondragon, Center for African and Asian Studies, El Colegio de Mexico

Community-Based Adaptation in the Pacific Islands

Meghan Gombos, Sea Change Consulting, LLC

Community-Based Planning And Mobilization in Urbanized Atolls: The Rita Reimaanlok Case Study

Tina Stege, Marshall Islands

Fostering Resilience in Coral Reef and Agricultural Systems in Guanica, PR

Paul Sturm, Ridge to Reefs

The Effects of Natural Disturbances, Reef State, and Herbivorous Fish Densities on Ciguatera Poisoning in Rarotonga, Southern Cook Islands

Teina Rongo, Climate Change-Cook Islands Division, Office of the Prime Minister

Incorporating Local Wisdom Sasi into Marine Zoning to Increase the Resilience of a Marine Protected Area Network in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

Purwanto, Coral Triangle/Indonesia, The Nature Conservancy (presented by Sangeeta Mangubhai)


Panel Discussions - Wednesday, April 10th 

Funding for Resilience: Perspectives From Funders and Grantees

  • Jeffrey Campbell (moderator), The Christensen Fund
  • Kate Barnes, The MacArthur Foundation
  • Bernd Cordes, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
  • Nayari Perez Diaz, Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) Belize
  • Naneng Setiasih, Coral Reef Alliance 

Case Studies

Island ecosystems present unique challenges for conservation due to their restricted geography and isolation as well as high vulnerability to threats such as climate change. At the same time, island peoples must confront pressures from rapid economic transformations, globalization, and climate change. Without the geographic buffers that a continent can provide, islands face critical conservation decisions now that foreshadow decisions all peoples, societies and nations will increasingly face. These decisions directly impact both biological and cultural diversity. Home to over 600 million people, islands are at the forefront of how humans will take action to define our shared future. These case studies relate first-hand experiences of how island systems have resisted or recovered from major disturbances. Understanding how island systems have faced and resisted or recovered from major disturbances can help managers and scientists assess what information they need to better inform planning and policy for resilience in the future.

The case studies presented here were inspired by the 2013 Milstein Science Symposium Understanding Ecological and Social Resilience in Island Systems: Informing Policy and Sharing Lessons for Management. Many symposium attendees expressed interest in hearing more about places that face challenges similar to their own. The Policy Working Group at the symposium felt that case studies on socio-ecological resilience collected and distilled to highlight success stories will bring community issues to life in a way that national policy representatives can use to guide recommendations on the global stage.

By relying on traditional food sources and norms of reciprocity, local communities on the island of Simbo exhibited social-ecological resilience following a devastating tsunami in 2007. Simbo, Solomon Islands.  

By Matthew Lauer, Simon Albert, and Shankar Aswani

A coral bleaching event and proposed coastal development provided the impetus to create a community-supported marine protected area. Speyside, Trinidad and Tobago. 

By Jahson Alemu and Hyacinth Armstrong

Conservation NGOs united in the face of a common enemy, the invasive lionfish, and have consequently been able to better coordinate conservation efforts. Bay Islands, Honduras. 

By Ian Drysdale, Jenny Myton, and Giacomo Palavicini 

Intensifying land clearing caused sediment plumes that threaten coral reefs. Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. 

Contributions by Kevin Rhodes 

Community-based marine protected areas revitalize traditional management institutions and fisheries stocks. New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. 

By John Aini and Paige West

A crown-of-thorns outbreak in 2005 catalyzed the collaboration of community members and local NGOs to work together to reduce the species numbers. Romblon, Philippines.  

By Chito Dugan

A coral bleaching event in 2010 highlighted the importance of communication and consultation between local government agencies, businesses, and local NGOs. Tioman Island, Malaysia. 

By Julian Hyde

Conservation actors facilitate the establishment of a Marine Park in response to a coral bleaching event and long-term overfishing pressure. Sint Maarten.

By Tadzio Bervoets 

Early detection of coral disease enables a coordinated response and learning for the future. Hanalei, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi, USA.

By Anne Rosinski and Makaʻala Kaʻaumoana

A robust marine protected area buffered the ecosystem from the threat of a Crown-of-Thorns sea star outbreak. Nimpal Channel, Yap, FSM.

By Peter Houk, Berna Gorong, and Eva Buthung  

Through the melding of traditional and Western management practices, local communities were able to mitigate the harmful ecological effects of overfishing. Ulithi, Yap, FSM.

By Peter Nelson 

In response to rapid terrestrial and marine degradation following economic change in the San Andres Archipelago, community members and natural resource managers addressed environmental degradation through multidisciplinary, broad-based programs under the UNESCO biosphere reserve model. San Andres Archipelago, Colombia.

By Marion Howard and Elizabeth Taylor

Local government and community leaders organized themselves to combat destructive cyanide and blast fishing through local patrolling. Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia.

By Purwanto

When poorly maintained roads threatened the reefs of Babeldaob through sedimentation, a broad coalition of stakeholders worked to establish and promote best management practices, leading to recovery. Babeldaob, Palau.

By Umai Basilius

Coral nurseries aim to improve the sustainability of the longstanding collection of corals for lime in an island renowned for the quality of its lime. Andra Island, Manus, Papua New Guinea.

By Jane Wia

Successful temporary closures generate momentum to establish a large locally managed marine protected area. Velondriake, Madagascar.

By Charlotte Gough, Jade Delevaux, Michele Barnes, and Kirsten L.L. Oleson

NGOs, government agencies and research institutions complement one another in fighting the lionfish invasion's effect on Bermuda’s reefs. Bermuda. 

By Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley

District chiefs, with technical support from NGOs and government ministries, work to overcome overfishing through community-based no-take areas. Kubulau District, Vanua Levu, Fiji.

By Stacy Jupiter


Symposium Program

Talk Abstracts

Poster Abstracts