Howard Wood celebrates 100 years of the National Park Service

August 16, 2016

Who can forget cheerful Scotsman and avid diver Howard Wood? Since winning the Prize in 2015 for establishing Scotland’s first community-developed Marine Protected Area, Wood has been hard at work with the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) educating and inspiring the next generation of Arran to protect their most treasured resource: the sea.

Ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service, we caught up with this pioneer of marine conservation to share what it took to save a unique stretch of coastline from the damaging fishing techniques of dredging and trawling. He also shows us some of his favorite spots (and marine animals!) in the area he protects — both above and below the water.

Seas Need Protection, too

Like many of the activists we award for their achievements in marine conservation, Wood reminds us that while many of us may think of mountains, lakes and rivers when talking about National Parks, the sea and the life it contains also deserve protected status (not least because the sea covers 70 percent of the earth and the plants within it generate the same proportion of our oxygen). And while 14 percent of all land is under some form of protected status, the same can only be said for just over 3 percent of the sea.

The Marine Protected Area he helped establish includes a ‘no take’ zone, which means that unlike other protected area statuses, no extractive industry of any kind is allowed. This level of protection is widely considered to be the most effective ways to ensure marine regeneration — and Arran’s marine life is bouncing back. Just as the National Park Service in the U.S. prohibits the exploitation of public lands, Marine Protected Areas have shown that the granting of official protected status truly helps to defend wildernesses such as Arran’s from reckless development:

“As we celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service in the United States, their experience shows that well managed nature reserves — on land or at sea — are successful in creating and maintaining a healthy and biodiverse world,” says Wood.

Join Howard’s Campaign

You can ensure that the marine life in this corner of the world is safeguarded, and help inspire the marine stewards of tomorrow by supporting COAST’s projects, such as development of a Marine Discovery and Activity Center for Arran’s Marine Protected Area.