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Australian National Surfing Reserve: Angourie

We interviewed Drew Kampion last week on the show regarding the World Surfing Reserves Enshrinement Program. The folks at sent us this FAQ to help the us, and the listeners, get a better understanding of the World Surfing Reserves program.

What is World Surfing Reserves?
World Surfing Reserves (WSR) proactively identifies, designates and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones and their surrounding environments, around the world. The program will create a global network of designated surfing reserves that are internationally and regionally recognized. The initiative depends on the coordination and partnership of the global surf and environmental communities and their representatives to select and enshrine the waves that best exemplify WSR criteria.

What are the WSR criteria?

WSR eligible waves and surf zones are evaluated and chosen based on the following criteria: 1) Quality and consistency of the wave or surf zone; 2) Unique environmental characteristics of the area; 3) Surf & ocean culture and history of the area; 4) Local community support

How does the program work?
There are four main phases of the WSR program: 1) Nomination, where sites from around the world are nominated every year from each country, by the country’s representative surfing association (NGB) or otherwise designated local representative NGO organization; 2) Selection, when the nominated sites are evaluated by a global body of experts, and WSR eligible sites are chosen and announced publicly; 3) Enshrinement, when a small number of chosen WSR eligible sites are prioritized and officially enshrined as World Surfing Reserves; and 4) Post-Enshrinement Management, which includes the implementation of a WSR Management Plan, as well as the ongoing management of the reserve by the local community. These phases repeat themselves on an annual basis, so every year represents a new opportunity for a site to ultimately be nominated, selected, and enshrined.

How are the actual sites selected?
After sites are nominated from around the world, the Selection Committee, a small global body of surfing and environmental experts, scores all the nominated sites based on the WSR criteria: 1) Quality and consistency of the wave or surf zone; 2) Unique environmental characteristics of the area; 3) Surf & ocean culture and history of the area; 4) Local community support. Based on this scoring, sites are categorized into three groups: WSR Eligible sites, Nationally Significant areas, and Regionally Significant zones. All three are worthy of recognition, because the communities in each area were motivated enough to submit them for consideration, which means stewardship of the sites is already a priority. But only a select few, which score well in all criteria, will be chosen as WSR Eligible sites.

What actually makes up a World Surfing Reserve? Is it just the surf break, or is there more to it than that?
The actual boundaries of a World Surfing Reserve will vary depending on location, but in general will include a specific wave break or series of wave breaks (a “surf zone”), in addition to its surrounding environment. This includes the surf break itself, plus what we call the near-shore environment, as well as a defined area of coastal land surrounding the break. Each reserve will have precise geographic boundaries associated with it, which will be recorded and documented within the reserve’s WSR Management Plan and other reserve materials.

What are some of the key references and inspirations for the WSR program?
1) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites program was one of the original inspirations for the program. The WSR initiative creates a “UNESCO of surfing” to educate the world on the tremendous universal value of waves and surf zones to local and international communities.
2) National Surfing Reserves – Australia (NSR) is another pioneering program that the WSR initiative has modeled portions of the program after. NSR has created a blueprint for national surfing reserves in Australia. This knowledge has been very useful for establishing WSR processes and criteria.
3) Save The Waves’ “Surfonomics” program, including the recent “Mavericks: Value of a Wave” study is a critical tool to understand and measure the value of potentially enshrined locations. These studies help local policy makers make positive conservation decisions around coastal protection, and also help support the justification for creating a World Surfing Reserve in the first place.

How is the program governed? Who manages it?
WSR was founded by Save The Waves Coalition, but also incorporates some key partnerships and outside assistance to make the program work. STW formed several partnerships, including with the International Surfing Association (ISA) to be able to work with all the surfing federations around the world. Also, National Surfing Reserves (NSR) – Australia has been a key partner from the program’s inception. The Center for Responsible Travel at Stanford, a nonprofit dedicated to responsible travel practices around the world, is also a partner in WSR. Several additional partnerships to further build the program are also in the works.
Beyond that, the program is managed by three governing bodies: the Vision Council, the Selection Committee, and the Field Team. The Vision Council is a global group of thought leaders from the surfing, environmental, scientific, media and business communities, charged with the overall vision and guidance of the program. The Selection Committee is primarily a subset of the Vision Council whose charter is to score and select WSR sites annually. The Field Team is made up of STW staff as well as partner organization staff, and they are responsible for administering and managing the program on a day-to-day basis.

Vision Council: Fernando Aguerre, Will Henry, Jim Moriarity, Tony Butt, Terry Gibson, Len Materman, Miles Walsh, Wallace J. Nichols, Steve Hawk, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Tiago Pires, Greg Long, Mark Massara, Chris LaFrankie, Chad Nelsen, Neil Lazarow, Brad Farmer, Jeff Clark, Manolo Lozano, Juca De Barros, Drew Kampion, Professor Andy Short, Professor Ben Finney
Selection Committee: Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Tiago Pires, Greg Long, Mark Massara, Jeff Clark, Steve Hawk, Juca De Barros, João De Macedo, Dean LaTourrette, Drew Kampion, Professor Andy Short, Alan Atkins
Field Team: WSR Program Manager Joao De Macedo, STW Executive Director Dean LaTourrette, additional STW staff plus WSR program partners.

How did the WSR program come to life?

João De Macedo, now program manager for Save The Waves, was inspired by a quote by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard in Save The Waves’ first documentary film, Lost Jewel of the Atlantic, wondering why great surf spots weren’t designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an idea was seeded. From there, De Macedo approached Save The Waves, where the idea for a proactive reserve program had also been bouncing around for several years. Save The Waves agreed to hire De Macedo to research the concept, and the team connected with NSR Australia and began formulating a structure for the program.

The program was officially launched in December 2008 at the Value of Waves Roundtable in Half Moon Bay, California, hosted by Save The Waves, which brought together visionary surfers, scientists and environmentalists to discuss the creation and management of the initiative. Save The Waves Coalition, along with key partners such as the International Surfing Association (ISA) and National Surfing Reserves (NSR) Australia, is targeting 2010 for the global program’s first enshrinements.

How is the program funded?
The program is currently funded exclusively by Save The Waves, with additional funding being explored from a variety of sources at the regional, national and international level. It’s anticipated that program funding will eventually consist of a combination of sources including Save The Waves, program partners, as well as local communities interested in implementing WSR sites.

What is the strategic goal of this program?
To create and manage an ongoing, global network of surfing reserves that will be recognized by the international surfing and environmental communities, as well as the general public. World Surfing Reserves in partnership with local communities unites the global surfing tribe to protect the world’s most sacred surf zones, and in turn inspires these local communities to continue to protect their own cherished waves.

While the program is still in its infancy, it will continue to grow in size and stature, and become a significant environmental and cultural force to protect surf spots and surfing coastline around the world.

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