California coastal resource managers and decisionmakers are currently 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.
Applying Ecological Principles
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 Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). 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.
Ecological principles represent the core attributes of natural systems that must be maintained or restored in order to support healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, and include maintaining, restoring, or accounting for:
- native species diversity;
- habitat diversity and heterogeneity;
- populations of key species;
- climate change;
- and cumulative impacts.