Case Studies

Watershed-based Analysis of Threats to Coral Reefs
World Resources Institute and partners have produced watershed-based analysis of threats to coral reefs in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef to support more targeted and effective policy interventions. The Land-based Sources of Threat to Coral Reefs in the US Virgin Islands study used several spatial and statistical techniques to characterize watersheds across the USVI with regard to relative erosion rates and the threat of land-based sources of sediment and pollutant delivery to coastal waters. An atlas was developed in conjunction with this work, providing a series of spatial indicators of watershed-based sources of threat to coral reefs in the USVI. The International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) study coupled the evaluated Nonpoint Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool (N-SPECT), developed by NOAA, and a circulation model, the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) to derive estimates of runoff, erosion, and pollutant sources from across the landscape and examine the transport of sediment and pollutants along the MAR. The analysis provided information and tools for examining the potential impact of different land use and development options in the region and the associated impacts on water quality on the MAR. Learn more.

Creating Resilient Communities Initiative in South Carolina
The Creating Resilient Communities Initiative in the tri-county region of Lowcountry South Carolina (Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties) is using GIS-based tools to map regional resources, identify areas at risk from natural hazards and conservation areas that may help to mitigate hazards’ impacts, and present this information in a people-friendly way that will help stakeholders and the public make informed decisions. The analysis will use CommunityViz software to create hypothetical scenarios, organize information, and form a framework for collaboration and discussion. CommunityViz will provide maps, graphs, 3-D models and other tools for easily presenting information and showing the effects of different decisions on the region's future building and growth. Additional science and planning models that will be integrated with CommunityViz are coastal hazard tools such as HAZUS and SLOSH, sea level rise models, and habitat protection tools such as NatureServe Vista and The Nature Conservancy's eco-regional assessment process. The Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool (CVAT) will be used to identify and weight hazards (like storm surge and erosion) and assets (like housing, roads, and habitat), and then overlay them to find areas of vulnerability. Scenarios and potential mitigation steps will then be compared. Learn more.

Report on The Use of Models in Great Lakes Decision Making
This report analyzes four cases in which computer simulation models served as decision support tools, all drawn from the Laurentian Great Lakes. Each case was assessed for how models have been used in decision making, their strengths and weaknesses as decision tools, the ways they have enhanced or undermined decision processes, and ways their development and use could be improved. The report draws on in-depth interviews with modelers, managers, decision-makers, and stakeholders and the scientific and technical literature related to each case to understand the "success" of models as decision support tools in three areas: (1) deliberative effectiveness (fostering communication among participants); (2) explanatory effectiveness (achieving a shared understanding of the problem and solutions); and (3) policy relevance (relevant to the actual policy decisions being made). Learn more.

Linking Joint Objectives of Conserving Biodiversity and Sustaining Fishery Production: Case Study from the Pacific Northwest
The Nature Conservancy and partners at NOAA Fisheries, University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland have prepared a case study from the Pacific Northwest Coast that examines approaches and methods for linking biodiversity conservation and fishery production objectives within one spatial planning framework. Two EBM tools were used: the optimized site selection tool, Marxan, and a fisheries-based ecosystem modeling tool, Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE). Two approaches for combining these objectives are illustrated. In the first approach, Marxan solutions are developed with and without data on marine fish. In the second approach, Marxan solutions are directly linked to EwE models through the Ecospace module to evaluate the effects of selecting areas for the conservation of representative biodiversity on fishery production. Learn more.

Meeting Joint Objectives of Conserving Coastal Wetlands and Mitigating Hazards: Case Study from the Florida Panhandle
The Nature Conservancy and partners at NOAA Coastal Services Center and the University of Queensland have prepared a case study from the Florida Panhandle that examines approaches for jointly meeting objectives in biodiversity conservation and coastal hazard mitigation. Three EBM tools were used: the optimized site selection tool, Marxan; the coastal hazards planning tool, Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool (CVAT); and Ecoregional Assessment approach for biodiversity conservation. Learn more.  

Alternatives for Coastal Development: Case Study from Coastal Georgia
NOAA Coastal Services Center has created the Alternatives for Coastal Development: One Site, Three Scenarios website that illustrates three hypothetical development scenarios for a residential area in coastal Georgia. A suite of EBM tools was used to calculate and compare economic, environmental, and social indicators for each scenario and visualize the scenarios. EBM tools used include CommunityViz ArcView 3.x extension for indicator development, the SGWater module of the U.S. EPA's free Smart Growth Index software for estimating pollutant runoff, and Visual Nature Studio for creating spatially referenced photorealistic 3-D scenes from each scenario. Learn more.

EBM Project Descriptions/Case Study Compilations

  • The book Ecosystem-Based Management for the Oceans is the first comprehensive guide to the science and practice of marine EBM. It features case studies of EBM in practice from around the world. Learn more.
  • The University of Michigan Ecosystem Management Initiative has compiled a number of terrestrial and watershed ecosystem management case studies. Learn more.
  • The Lenfest Ocean Program has compiled case studies of U.S. activities in ecosystem-based fisheries management. Learn more .
  • The Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Initiative has compiled a review of marine ecosystem-based management initiatives throughout the world. Learn more .
  • WWF has compiled cases studies on the implementation of EBM in marine capture fisheries. Learn more.
  • The Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity has assembled a database of case studies on ecosystem approaches to implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity. Learn more
  • The journal article "Marine ecosystem-based management: from characterization to implementation" provides a review of scientific definitions of EBM and management plans for eight marine and coastal ecosystems. Complete reference: Arkema, K.K., et al. 2006. Marine ecosystem-based management: from characterization to implementation. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment .
  • Ecosystem-based Management in New York State: Taking the Next Steps expresses the goals and expectations of a broad diversity of stakeholders to proactively and collaboratively pursue EBM in New York State as part of the New York State Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act. Learn more.