Linking the social to the ecological using GIS methods in marine spatial planning and management to support resilience: A review

Last modified: 
August 26, 2019 - 10:43am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 10/2019
Authors: Mae Noble, David Harasti, Jamie Pittock, Bruce Doran
Journal title: Marine Policy
Volume: 108
Pages: 103657
ISSN: 0308597X

Marine spatial planning (MSP) has been put forward as a way to more comprehensively manage marine environments by balancing human demands and protecting areas that support ecosystem function. Given the recent motivations for countries to adopt large-scale marine spatial planning approaches, ensuring these plans are grounded in social-ecological resilience theories is essential for long-term success. Drawing upon recent academic attention from a range of disciplinary areas, this review explores current practices and applied examples of published case studies from around the world that have integrated social and ecological spatial information using GIS techniques. This review intended to use these case studies to guide directions of future MSP research that considers social-ecological resilience theories. Five overall themes were uncovered. First, extractive uses, such as fisheries, were often given priority in MSP processes, which even though important, may undermine the social resilience of coastal communities by not supporting the diversity of non-extractive economies. Second, the quality of ecological spatial data used in the studies varied greatly, often with little consideration of how ongoing human demands may influence long-term ecological resilience. Thrid, many GIS techniques were used to integrate social and ecological data including: descriptive maps, site prioritisation techniques, and predictive modelling. Lastly, only a small number of studies considered cross-ecosystem influences and only two incorporated potential climate change impacts on social institutions and marine ecosystems. Overall, there is a need for progressing GIS predictive modelling techniques to assess and link the responses of social and ecological systems to MSP solutions in order to support long-term social-ecological resilience.

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