Calado, H., Bragagnolo, C., Silva, S.F., Pereira, M. 2014. A multi-scale analysis to support the implementation of a regional conservation policy in a small-island archipelago – the Azores, Portugal. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 485–489, ISSN 0749-0208.
Small islands present both exceptional biodiversity and higher vulnerability. Their isolation has been identified as the main driver contributing to preserve the unique natural capital (10 of the 34 terrestrial biodiversity hotspots listed by Conservation International are wholly comprised of islands). However, small-island archipelagos may present a great variability among islands in terms of size and population, remoteness, incomes, natural and cultural landscapes, human pressures and vulnerabilities to global changes. This inexorably leads to different values, life-styles, and land use forms, which combine to shape cultural and socio-economic relationships of archipelagos, creating inter- and intra- island networks. Therefore, exploring inter- and intra-island relationships (based on historical, geographical, political and economic factors) can support a better understanding of networks and scale-dependent processes (ecological, economic, political, etc.), facilitating a more effective implementation of sustainable and biodiversity conservation policies at different levels. In this contribution, we present a multi-scale analyse to support the implementation of a regional conservation policy in a small-island archipelago (The Azores, Portugal). It represents a decision-making challenge for biodiversity conservation where a new management system of Protected Areas (PAs) was recently adopted. Three spatial units are considered: archipelago, island groups and island per se. The analysis integrates qualitative information, quantitative indicators and land use analyses in order to identify key areas of concern and relevant challenges for implementing the regional conservation policy at multiple levels. Findings underlined the importance to provide appropriate arrangements to better deal with scale mismatches arising from the divergence between spatial scale (where conservation challenges are identified) and administrative levels (where management interventions can be made).