Systematic conservation planning increasingly underpins the conservation and management of marine and coastal ecosystems worldwide. Amongst other benefits, conservation planning provides transparency in decision-making, efficiency in the use of limited resources, the ability to minimise conflict between diverse objectives, and to guide strategic expansion of local actions to maximise their cumulative impact. The Coral Triangle has long been recognised as a global marine conservation priority, and has been the subject of huge investment in conservation during the last five years through the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security. Yet conservation planning has had relatively little influence in this region. To explore why this is the case, we identify and discuss 10 challenges that must be resolved if conservation planning is to effectively inform management actions in the Coral Triangle. These are: making conservation planning accessible; integrating with other planning processes; building local capacity for conservation planning; institutionalising conservation planning within governments; integrating plans across governance levels; planning across governance boundaries; planning for multiple tools and objectives; understanding limitations of data; developing better measures of progress and effectiveness; and making a long term commitment. Most important is a conceptual shift from conservation planning undertaken as a project, to planning undertaken as a process, with dedicated financial and human resources committed to long-term engagement.
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- Coral Triangle