News & Events Posts

U.S. Marine Protected Area Classification System

CLCC Staff Note: This post was reprinted from the NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center as it relates to the work of the CLCC Protected Areas Conservation Action Team.

Hōlei Sea Arch with viewing area. Credit: S. Geiger, NPS

In an attempt to clarify discussion about various MPA issues, the National Marine Protected Areas Center developed a set of simple definitions for common MPA types that are intended to provide an objective and intuitive way to understand, describe, and constructively assess most MPAs found in the United States.

This classification system is:

  • simple, consistent and intuitive
  • an accurate reflection of MPA goals and approaches
  • a tool to allow an objective assessment of the impacts of proposed MPAs on ecosystems and users
  • one that doesn’t overlap with programmatic names
  • one that has minimal connotations

The MPA classification system was created to simplify the often confusing diversity of MPA terminology by focusing on a few key functional features that together describe those aspects of the MPA that are of greatest concern to stakeholders, agencies, and scientists. The classification system uses five fundamental design characteristics, and options within them, that can be used to describe any MPA. The main two characteristics are Conservation Focus and Level of Protection.

Learn more about the five fundamental characteristics of U.S. MPAs.

There are other classification systems in use worldwide. Learn about the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN)guidelines, or visit the IUCN’s protected areas section.

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A Tale of Two Watersheds

The CLCC is building momentum around the two Pilot Delivery Watersheds in Puerto Rico for our Landscape Conservation Design efforts. Two Delivery Watersheds. Two Approaches.

  1. Rio Grande de Arecibo Watershed: Leading Landscape Conservation Design and Implementation from A to Z
  2. Rio Herrera – Las Cabezas Watershed: Supporting Role: Bring new resources in support of existing efforts and/or identify gaps in existing efforts

This infographic from the World Resources Institute demonstrates two others types of watersheds and how one with a healthy natural infrastructure improves water security and one with degraded lands threatens water supplies. Our vision is that through cooperative efforts both our Pilot Delivery Watersheds in Puerto Rico (and the future one(s) in the U.S. Virgin Islands) will resemble the former, and not the latter.


Rio Grande de Arecibo Watershed Factoids Published Every #WatershedWednesday

Every Wednesday the CLCC publishes Rio Grande de Arecibo factoids as part of #WatershedWednesday. The posts educate CLCC partners and social media followers on the natural and cultural resources present within the CLCC Pilot Delivery Watershed (part of our Landscape Conservation Design efforts). Some factoids touch on management challenges in the watershed that the Cooperative may tackle in the future.

Shared problems require shared solutions. We can achieve a great deal upstream, downstream, and along the coast when acting together rather than trying to act alone. This is particularly true in interconnected systems – and, as you can see by these Watershed Factoids, the health of the Rio Grande de Arecibo Watershed is highly interconnected to the well-being of its citizens, tourists, and industries.


Watershed Factoid #1

May 10, 2017

Watershed Factoid #2

May 17th, 2017

Watershed Factoid #3

May 24, 2017

This factoid is also available in Spanish

Watershed Factoid #4

May 31, 2017

Watershed Factoid #5

June 7, 2017

Watershed Factoid #6

June 14, 2017

Watershed Factoid #7

June 21, 2017

Watershed Factoid #8

28 June 2017

This factoid is also available in Spanish.

Partner Spotlight: Sierra Club Puerto Rico

Sierra Club has led the effort to challenge nature enthusiasts in Puerto Rico to capture at least one photo from each of the protected areas in Puerto Rico by the end of 2017. This challenge to Sierra Club members and nature lovers came out of their work as a member of the CLCC‘s Protected Areas Conservation Action Team. Each year the team disseminates an updated inventory and map of protected areas. Sierra Club members and supporters were notified of the challenge via Sierra Club newsletters, social media, and personal contacts. To-date the PA-CAT has received 36 photos of 18 protected areas. The challenge is ongoing – if interested follow the instructions below to submit your photos to the Protected Areas Conservation Action Team!  In particular, we are looking for photos of areas that have been declared as protected recently (Playa Grande El Paraíso, Dorado, Mar Chiquita, Manatí, Las Cucharillas, Cataño), but we want original photos of all the protected natural areas of Puerto Rico. A big applause to Sierra Club Puerto Rico for their contributions to the PA-CAT and to their talented photographers.


1. Send your photo via email:

– the photo should be sent to the email:

– the phrase ‘ANP photo’ must appear in the subject line of the e-mail

– Please copy and paste the following sentence into the body of your email:

a. Authorize the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CLCC) to utilize the sent photo en cyberportals or other digital and print media.
b. I declare that the photo is by me and that the content has not been altered after it was taken (e.g. Photoshopped)”. 

– The use could be print or internet.

3. Please include the following information in your email:

  • Name of the author of the photo
  • Data in was taken
  • Name of the protected area shown in the photo
  • Municipality the photo was taken in
  • A brief description of the photo. If the photo emphasizes something in particular (an animal or geologic formation of interest), please describe that information

4. It is requested that the dimensions are 1024 x 768 or greater.

5. The minimum resolution required to guarantee a quality projection is 150 ppi.

6. It is requested that the format be JPEG or PNG


Need driving directions? Click here for the new map of protected natural areas of Puerto Rico.

The team has the goal to have at least one photo of each protected area by the end of the year 2017 when the next PA-CAT inventory and map will be published.