The process of implementing EBM can seem daunting, and many people have indicated that it is very challenging to know what needs to be accomplished. It can be useful to have some questions that help focus one's thinking. The following Focus Questions correspond with the Core Elements. You are practicing EBM when you put thought into these questions, develop answers, and follow through with appropriate action. Note: These questions cover some critical aspects of the Core Elements, but they are not comprehensive.
What benefits do people obtain from nature in the focal area? These benefits are called nature’s services or ecosystem services.
What level of benefit are people receiving from ecosystem services in the focal area? The levels may be measured quantitatively and/or qualitatively using natural and/or social sciences.
How have nature’s services changed over time in the focal area?
What services does society want and need from the focal area now and into the future?
How can nature's services be measured in a way that is useful for management, and what quantitative targets or goals should management have for specific types of nature's services?
How do species and ecological processes in the focal area generate nature’s services?
How do human activities affect ecosystem services in the focal area?
How much do people value (including market and non-market values) nature’s services from the focal area?
What are the tradeoffs among human activities in terms of their impact on nature’s services?
How can we use scientific monitoring and models to measure key changes in nature's services, outcomes of management actions, and progress toward EBM goals?
What are the natural, political, and administrative subareas that make up the focal area, and what role do subareas play in generating nature's services? Examples of subareas might include watersheds, bays, and towns.
What abutting areas might affect or be affected by the focal area?
What are the larger natural, political, and administrative regions that encompass the focal area, and how does the focal area contribute to nature's services? Examples of larger areas may be biogeographic regions, ocean basins, and nations.
What data are available for integrating across geographic scales to understand the focal area’s natural characteristics and human dimensions?
Which organizations are working on elements of EBM in the subareas or larger regions, and how can we share knowledge, align goals, and take complementary action?
Do we have a conceptual model of ecological linkages in the focal area, and is it accessible as a decision-making tool for everyone engaged in EBM?
What are the key ecological linkages that should be given special attention in decision-making?
What are the tradeoffs and cumulative impacts that may arise from these ecological linkages?
Based on information about ecological linkages, how might we adjust policies, regulations, enforcement, and other management practices to better sustain nature’s services?
How do human activities, some of which may seem relatively harmless on their own, combine to impair nature’s services?
How can we adjust policies, regulations, enforcement, and other management tools to account for these cumulative impacts and better sustain nature’s services?
What direct and indirect tradeoffs occur or could occur among human activities in the focal area? How could occurrence of one type of human activity affect the viability of other human activities? Consider multiple dimensions including spatial and temporal dimensions. When a particular human activity occurs and reaps benefits from nature’s services, does it cause other nature’s services to decline?
How can we quantify these tradeoffs and weigh them explicitly when making decisions about human activities in the area?
How can we use management actions as experiments and employ scientific monitoring to determine the outcomes of the experiments?
How can we use scientific monitoring of nature’s services to determine net changes in societal benefits due to management actions?
Are we adjusting management practices appropriately as new scientific information enhances our understanding of human impacts and ecosystem function?
Does scientific monitoring show that we are making acceptable progress toward our goals for nature’s services and net societal benefits? If not, how can we change our management practices to produce better outcomes and make more progress toward the goals?
Who are the individuals and organizations that have an interest or stake in the ocean and coast in the focal area and abutting areas? Who has a direct or indirect interest in using, appreciating, or sustaining nature’s services?