EBM Toolbox: Using Toolkits for EBM

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of tools for facilitating EBM processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users, developers, and training providers.

By Sarah Carr

An EBM toolkit is a set of interoperating tools for conducting an EBM process. Using such toolkits allows users to tackle analyses that single tools cannot do alone. Examples of recent projects that have used toolkits include:

  • The Creating Resilient Communities Project, which modeled possible future scenarios for three coastal counties in the US state of South Carolina. Specifically the project evaluated outcomes related to natural hazards, sea level rise, community vulnerability, and biodiversity conservation.

Toolkit used: NatureServe Vista, NOAA's Community Resilience and Vulnerability Assessment Toolkit, and Placeways' CommunityViz. For more on this project: http://bit.ly/SouthCarolinatoolkit

  • The Mission-Aransas Ecosystem Management Project, which developed alternative land use strategies for Aransas County, Texas (US), to best meet ecological and socioeconomic sustainability objectives, including for water quality and estuarine-marine resources.

Toolkit used: NatureServe Vista, NOAA's Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool, Placeways' CommunityViz. For more on this project: http://bit.ly/Aransastoolkit

On the subject of toolkits, a recent study examined the two projects above and four others that used EBM tools, and provided the following lessons on tool effectiveness:

  • Projects should try to provide training in the toolkit or individual tools to a diverse set of users so there is always local knowledge on how to use the often-complex toolkits even if some users move away;
  • Projects should carefully consider the data requirements for using toolkits because developing data can be resource-intensive and data limitations can influence where the toolkit can be used;
  • Convening experts in an area can be an effective and relatively inexpensive way to develop needed data; and
  • Projects should allocate time for using tools and toolkits realistically because it often takes more time than initially anticipated.

Read the report (Bridging the Divide Between Science and Planning: Lessons from EBM Approaches to Local and Regional Planning in the United States, PlaceMatters, 2011) at http://bit.ly/EBMtoolstudy.

(Sarah Carr is coordinator for the EBM Tools Network. Learn more about EBM tools and the EBM Tools Network at www.ebmtools.org. Sign up for Network updates and contact Sarah at www.ebmtools.org/contact.html.)

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