Biodiversity is globally recognised as a cornerstone of healthy ecosystems, and biodiversity conservation is increasingly becoming one of the important aims of environmental management. Evaluating the trade-offs of alternative management strategies requires quantitative estimates of the costs and benefits of their outcomes, including the value of biodiversity lost or preserved. This paper takes a decision-analytic standpoint, and reviews and discusses the alternative aspects of biodiversity valuation by dividing them into three categories: socio-cultural, economic, and ecological indicator approaches. We discuss the interplay between these three perspectives and suggest integrating them into an ecosystem-based management (EBM) framework, which permits us to acknowledge ecological systems as a rich mixture of interactive elements along with their social and economic aspects. In this holistic framework, socio-cultural preferences can serve as a tool to identify the ecosystem services most relevant to society, whereas monetary valuation offers more globally comparative and understandable values. Biodiversity indicators provide clear quantitative measures and information about the role of biodiversity in the functioning and health of ecosystems. In the multi-objective EBM approach proposed in the paper, biodiversity indicators serve to define threshold values (i.e., the minimum level required to maintain a healthy environment). An appropriate set of decision-making criteria and the best method for conducting the decision analysis depend on the context and the management problem in question. Therefore, we propose a sequence of steps to follow when quantitatively evaluating environmental management against biodiversity.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
Managing marine ecosystems to promote natural functioning and provide for sustainable use is a necessary complement to formal conservation in protected areas. Because the area for conservation and resources for management are limited, both sites and actions need to be prioritized. Sandy beaches are poorly recognised as ecosystems, and thus are neither well managed nor regularly included in conservation initiatives, and are highly threatened. Therefore, we aim to refine an existing cumulative threat assessment (CTA) for beach ecosystems, the outputs of which can inform prioritization of beaches for conservation in reserves and/or various management objectives beyond reserves. We focus on the latter, using the CTA to derive a decision-support tool that aims to provide for use of sandy shores, whilst ensuring their ecological functioning is not compromised. The CTA depends on expert-based scores of threats to ecosystems; these were determined at the VIth International Sandy Beach Symposium (2012) for a baseline scenario under two criteria: functional impact and recovery time. Application of the CTA and decision-support tool is illustrated using the South African beaches. The baseline threat scores were adapted to suit the local context, and spatial trends in the cumulative impact of 15 threats were quantified. South African beaches are exposed to a broad range of cumulative pressure: overall it is relatively low, except where beaches are associated with areas of intensive coastal development. Based on the degree of permanent modification of the shore, and cumulative impact of all other stressors, the decision-support tool classifies beaches as: social-priority areas; ecological-priority areas; or social-ecological areas, each with specific management objectives.
Indicators are essential tools for policy making, public communication and the provision of scientific advice. In fisheries science, indicators have been increasingly used to advising on fish and shellfish stock management, especially since the precautionary approach to fisheries management was developed. They are now becoming a cornerstone of the wider ecosystem approach to the management of all human activities. In this section, we provide some recent examples of methods we developed for creating and selecting pressure indicators and ecological indicators derived from different types of information (scientific survey data, commercial fisheries data) for a range of ecosystems, covering pelagic, demersal and deep-water systems.
Estuaries and coastal zones reflect conflicting processes due to their positions at the interface between terrestrial and marine environments. The estuary of the Seine is an example of such a continuum and is affected by numerous human activities. Although degradation started in the middle of nineteenth century, the Seine estuary remains an important area for biodiversity as well for the food web involving fish and birds. The estuary area has been affected by intense historic anthropogenic pressures and, more recently, by new human activities, including harbour extension, aggregate extraction and the development of offshore wind farms. Nowadays, harbour projects continue to highlight the existing ecological compartments and are still studied independently. French and European regulations, including reforms of the harbour status, should ensure a better integration of natural heritage protection into the integrated coastal zone management process. However, there is a paradox between the declaration of the French state, which encourages a global management plan for the Seine Estuary, and sectoral territorial approaches adopted by the managers. This paper presents an analysis of the current contrasted situation in the administration of territories, which favours sectoral management rather than a unique ecosystem-based management process.
Integrated coastal management (ICM) has been introduced and promoted globally for nearly half a century. About 12% of China’s coastline has now come under the ICM governance framework to address the environmental and management challenges. To test the effectiveness of ICM in China, three coastal cities that adopted the ICM framework were selected as case studies. The ICM indicators in terms of governance, environment and socioeconomic aspects were designed for quantitatively evaluating the ICM performance over a 9-year period from 2004 to 2012.The results showed that ICM performance based on governance, coastal environment and socioeconomic aspects in the three improved, indicating that the ICM approach can be effective in promoting the overall sustainability of China’s coastal cities.
The purpose of this study is to challenge long-standing assumptions on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) feeding around Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and provide information that will be useful for the next generation of ecosystem-based models. Using stomach content analysis and published cod stomach data I address two primary questions: Do cod cease feeding during spawning? Does the cod diet reflect changes in prey assemblages in the ecosystem? Spatial and temporal diet variation was additionally analyzed. Regional variation was paramount such that diet diversity, mirroring ecosystem diversity, increased with decreasing latitude. Contrary to current assumptions, feeding continued through spawning. The stomach content contribution of shrimp reflect environmental trends in these prey assemblages over the past 65 years, while crab, a minor part of the cod diet, does not reflect abundance changes. Capelin appeared preferably consumed when encountered. Cod are not complete generalist feeders but select for certain energy rich prey.
The adoption of risk-based methodologies is considered essential for the successful implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries and broader aquatic management. To assist with these initiatives, one of the qualitative risk assessment methods adapted for fisheries management over a decade ago has been reviewed. This method was updated to ensure compliance with the revised international standards for risk management (ISO 31000) and to enable consideration of ecological, economic, social, and governance risks. The review also addressed the difficulties that have been encountered in stakeholder understanding of the underlying concepts and to increase the discipline in its application. The updates include simplifying the number of consequence and likelihood levels, adopting graphical techniques to represent different consequence levels, and discussing how changes in uncertainty can affect risk scores. Adopting an explicit “weight of evidence” approach has also assisted with determining which consequence scenarios are considered plausible and, where relevant, their specific likelihoods. The revised methods therefore incorporate the conceptual elements from a number of qualitative and quantitative approaches increasing their reliability and enabling a more seamless transition along this spectrum as more lines of evidence are collected. It is expected that with continued application of these methods, further refinements will be identified.
Contemporary environmental policy incorporates a collaborative approach, and conservation management commonly denotes the formation of governance networks on the sub-national level. This trend toward networks implies a shift in the mode of public governance since state-centered top-down control is replaced by a primary focus on governing networks from the top. Previous research has studied the performance of collaborative networks while the role of the state in these settings has been acknowledged to a lesser extent. Thus, prevailing knowledge concerning how public agencies can govern networks towards the fulfillment of environmental objectives is restricted. This issue is addressed in this paper through an empirical case study of a state-initiated process aimed at implementing the ideas of ecosystem-based management, by means of collaboration networks, in five coastal regions in Sweden. What governance strategies were adopted by the environmental protection agency, and how can the governance outcome be described in terms of ecosystem-based management and stakeholder support? Based on the empirical findings, the influence of the chosen governance approach on the outcomes is discussed. The results clearly illustrate the particular tradeoffs that occur as various governance strategies interact and how these influence both social and ecological aspects. The application of extensive and rigorous governance strategies enhance the fulfillment of ecosystembased management while vagueness and flexibility enable local adaptation and enhance stakeholder support. Governing networks from the top involve a balancing act, and the idea of fulfilling environmental objectives through the dynamic of network is appealing albeit challenging in practice.
International policy frameworks such as the Common Fisheries Policy and the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive define high-level strategic goals for marine ecosystems. Strategic goals are addressed via general and operational management objectives. To add credibility and legitimacy to the development of objectives, for this study stakeholders explored intermediate level ecological, economic and social management objectives for Northeast Atlantic pelagic ecosystems. Stakeholder workshops were undertaken with participants being free to identify objectives based on their own insights and needs. Overall 26 objectives were proposed, with 58% agreement in proposed objectives between two workshops. Based on published evidence for pressure-state links, examples of operational objectives and suitable indicators for each of the 26 objectives were then selected. It is argued that given the strong species-specific links of pelagic species with the environment and the large geographic scale of their life cycles, which contrast to demersal systems, pelagic indicators are needed at the level of species (or stocks) independent of legislative region. Pelagic community indicators may be set at regional scale in some cases. In the evidence-based approach used in this study, the selection of species or region specific operational objectives and indicators was based on demonstrated pressure-state links. Hence observed changes in indicators can reliably inform on appropriate management measures.
- As a consequence of increasing threats to the marine ecosystems, new decision support tools are necessary to support the implementation of the Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) to management in order to ensure their sustainable exploitation whilst ensuring their preservation.
- To operationalize Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) to management and translate scientific knowledge into decision tools, an innovative Adaptive Marine Policy Toolbox has been created. It provides policymakers with necessary framework and resources to develop adaptive policies according to the EBA.
- The Adaptive Marine Policy Toolbox provides a one-stop single location to access all the guidelines and resources necessary to design and implement adaptive marine policies according to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
- The toolbox presents a high transferability to additional regulations calling for the Ecosystem-Based Approach to management such as the Ecosystem Approach of the Mediterranean Action Plan and the Black Sea´s Strategic Action Plan.
- The Resources existing within the toolbox are presented in a user-friendly format. The presence of assessments and models capable to cope with uncertain conditions allows for high flexibility and adaptation in management strategies when future conditions change.