Data collection and mapping – Principles, processes and application in marine spatial planning
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is increasingly being used as a mechanism to manage the marine environment. Human activities can impact biophysical ecosystem features, reducing resilience and potentially impacting ecosystem services, which can affect the environmental, socio-economic and cultural benefits derived by coastal communities. Central to MSP is the collection and collation of baseline data on biophysical ecosystem features and ecosystem services to inform decision making and target management measures. The data collection process should be a structured, transparent process to ensure adequate data and metadata collation to enable it to be effectively used in MSP. This data should be subject to stakeholder consultation, producing quality assured information and mapping. The resources required to undertake data collection should not be underestimated. Recognition should be given to the limits of knowledge of the marine environment and its complexity. Planners and developers should exercise caution when using and interpreting the results of mapping outputs.