By Joanna Smith

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

The Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP; recently released four sub-regional marine plans for the north coast waters of the Canadian province of British Columbia. MaPP used a wide variety of spatial and non-spatial planning tools, some of which were developed for the MaPP process. Many of these tools may be useful for other planning processes depending on their scale, scope, and desired outputs. [Editor’s note: Look for another EBM Toolbox column soon on how some of these tools are being used for MSP processes in Seychelles and the Lesser Sunda Ecoregion of Indonesia.] Some of the most important tools, resources, and spatial products MaPP used were:

  • Recommended Uses and Activities Tables – These tables accompanied the zoning designations in each sub-regional marine plan. They provided recommendations and management conditions for uses and activities that were compatible with the objective(s) for zones. These tables are contained with the sub-regional plans on the MaPP website. For an example, see the North Vancouver Island Marine Plan at
  • Uses and Activity Definitions – This list provided definitions of all the marine uses and activities that were included in the plan. This list was in addition to a Glossary that defined all technical or specific terms used in the plan. In planning processes, there can be disagreements between lumpers – those who like to generalize and combine – and splitters – those who like to split or refine. The master list of all uses and activity descriptions is a place where both lumped and split terms can be defined and archived, even if they are not all used in the final planning products. In the final MaPP sub-regional marine plans, the uses and activity definitions lists include all applicable terms for zoning and recommended uses and activities. These lists are contained with the sub-regional plans on the MaPP website. For an example, see Appendix 1 of the North Coast Marine Plan at
  • Marine Planning Portal – The web-based planning tool SeaSketch ( was used for cataloguing data layers, revising zones, analyzing zone impacts, and reviewing marine plans. MaPP’s planning portal ( had over 275 data layers for administrative boundaries, existing marine protected areas, marine species and habitats, marine uses and activities, and spatial analyses.
  • Marxan Outputs – The British Columbia Marine Conservation Analysis (BCMCA; team and MaPP used the tool Marxan ( to identify high priority conservation areas within the MaPP planning boundary. This information was used to assess how well proposed protection management zones met representational goals.
  • Atlases – It was extremely valuable for the MaPP process to have use of two different atlases, the BCMCA Interactive Atlas ( and the PNCIMA Atlas (, that had compiled hundreds of data layers in the 3-5 years before planning began. These two atlas projects meant that MaPP was able to hit the ground running because available data had been identified, compiled, and processed. MaPP worked with the data custodians on data sharing agreements and updating layers with new information.
  • Dropbox – The file sharing system Dropbox ( was essential for enabling dispersed team members to store, organize, and archive information in a central location so it could be accessed by everyone. Finding files among the hundreds of folders was difficult, so it was important to have one person responsible for overseeing folder structure and taking care of backups and permissions.
  • Mendeley – The reference management system Mendeley ( allowed dispersed team members to store and access the more than 1300 published and unpublished documents gathered during the MaPP process. MaPP had a lead person responsible for managing the software and ensuring the customized database was consistent and updated regularly with new information.

In addition, many other resources were critical for MaPP – primary literature, unpublished reports and technical documents, other coastal and marine plans in British Columbia and globally, websites, conferences, and, perhaps most importantly, colleagues providing collaborations and expertise.

Joanna Smith was the Science Coordinator for the MaPP process from 2011 to 2014. She led the development of regional technical documents and frameworks, use of decision-support tools for zoning, and spatial analyses to support regional and sub-regional plans. She is now the Marine Spatial Planning Science Manager for TNC Canada. Jo works globally to provide leadership, scientific support and process facilitation to marine planning processes and implementation in Seychelles, Indonesia, Mexico, and Canada. Read more about her work at She can be contacted at