A preliminary assessment of protected area management within the WWF ‘Coastal East Africa’ priority place, eastern Africa

We studied the effectiveness of protected area management within a Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) priority place for conservation investment, located in the coastal areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. At least 473 sites in this region have completed Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) assessments since 2003, often associated with Global Environment Fund (GEF) funded projects, but also through work funded by other donors and WWF itself. We show that community managed reserves score higher using the METT tool when compared with sites managed by the state forest agencies. We situate this within the context of approaches to reserve management in Tanzania, where state-managed Forest Reserves have received little in terms of funding support and score lowest when compared with all other management types in Tanzania. Further, we show that slightly higher average METT scores for sites where WWF are working across Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, when compared with all other sites, are most pronounced in elements of the METT tool relating to inputs, process and planning, and are not seen in outputs or outcomes. We discuss the utility of the METT tool for organisations like WWF to evaluate their impact in protected area management, including the issue of systematic bias in data recording (WWF facilitation of assessments) and that more time may be required to see the outcomes and impacts from any management improvements that have been achieved.