California coastal resource managers and decision makers are tasked with managing human activities to promote a healthy and productive coastal economy and protect marine resources. To do this, many agencies seek ways to apply lessons from ecological theory into their decision processes using the best available science. However, making connections between science and management can be challenging in part because there is no process for linking ecological principles (which include maintaining species diversity, habitat diversity, connectivity and populations of key species) with available data. The EcoPrinciples Connect aims to build a web-based interface that connects marine managers to scientific and geospatial information through the lens of these ecological principles, ultimately helping managers become more efficient, more consistent, and advance the integration of ecosystem-based management.
The EcoPrinciples Connect tool grew directly out of needs identified by users of our reference guide, Incorporating Ecological Principles into California Ocean and Coastal Management: Examples from Practice. The reference guide matches the ecological principles to California agency mandates and decision processes. To make this work more efficient for agency staff we are matching publicly available data to the ecological principles for the CCC. EcoPrinciples Connect is also linked to the Center’s Cumulative Impact Assessment project, as the new tool references the best available data and scientific information that can be incorporated into managers’ environmental review documents and assessments of cumulative impacts on ecological processes.
A coastal power plant in Moss Landing, CA is one example of human uses in marine ecosystems. Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons.
Where we are now
The Center in collaboration with the San Francisco Estuarine Institute and California Ocean Science Trust, co-developed a web-based interface named "EcoPrinciples Connect." This online tool links marine managers to scientific and geospatial information through the lens of key ecological principles. Planning, permitting and policy staff from the San Francisco Bay Conservation Development Commission adopted the decision to support the tool. Early feedback suggest that COS has delivered a useful decision support tool that will help the BCDC become more efficient, more consistent, and advance the integration of ecosystem-based management into their daily decisions.