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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Preliminary Report to the World Wildlife Fund on the Historical Ecology of the Sulu and Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion

  • Author(s): Richie, Morgan
  • et al.

Sulu and Sulawesi Seas are in the heart of the coral triangle, the location of the world’s greatest marine biodiversity. For this reason, many non-government organizations have large conservation projects in this area, but they are working in the absence of historical baselines. Historical ecology is a discipline that addresses biological change due to human interactions with nature, and can be used as a tool to gain insight for conservation decisions. Conservation plans have not traditionally included a historical ecology study in their methodology, which is a primary reason that many marine management and conservation attempts have failed.

The scope of this project was to assess historical fishing efforts in Malaysia to provide a perspective for management and restoration of coastal marine systems. This study intends to illuminate changes in ecosystem structure, which have occurred over centuries, in order to increase the chances of success in the region. For this project, historical data was mined with the intent to uncover the ecological stories associated with centuries of marine resource use, and to provide this historical background to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This information will add to WWF’s existing knowledge of the area, and will help experts establish conservation goals aimed at reversing the trajectory of decline.

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