Ecosystem-based management (EBM): challenges of moving from scientific definitions to management applications.
Arkema, Katie *,1, Abramson, Sarah1, Dewsbury , Bryan2, 1 University of California, Santa Barbara, CA2 Florida International University, Miami, FL
ABSTRACT- Over the past decade ecosystem-based management (EBM) has become a buzzword in policy and academic arenas. However, the variety of EBM definitions and implementation approaches makes it challenging to translate the science into effective policy. We reviewed the scientific literature from the last decade to identify general ecological principles for EBM. Our review yielded 19 ecological criteria, ranging from very general to more specific. We then considered the extent to which these ecological criteria are used by agencies and NGOs in managing large complex ecosystems. To do this, we analyzed 54 management plans for 9 ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef, the northern Channel Islands, Chesapeake Bay and others. Data were gathered by students from 7 universities as part of a distributed graduate seminar coordinated by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Both definitions and management plans tend to focus on general EBM criteria, such as maintaining ecosystem health, while specific criteria, such as recognizing ecological complexity and engaging stakeholders, receive less emphasis. On average, 60% of the definitions mention general criteria, while only 34% mention specific criteria. Management plans focus even less on specific criteria. On average, 24% of management objectives address general EBM goals, while only 3% incorporate detailed ecological criteria. Criteria related to system dynamics and temporal scale are very rarely addressed by objectives, suggesting that management plans emphasize static rather than dynamic approaches to management of ecological systems. Overall, we found a notable disconnect between definitions for, and application of, EBM. Our results reveal the need for a systematic framework to translate ecological principles, detailed human goals, and explicit management strategies into practical tools for implementing EBM.
Key words: Ecosystem-based, Management, Marine, Coastal
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