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

Tools can facilitate many aspects of stakeholder engagement in a conservation or management project. They can assist with collecting information on local use of natural resources, disseminating project information and results, visualizing potential management alternatives and their consequences for ecosystems and communities, and gathering input from stakeholders about the desirability of those alternatives. The EBM Tools Network webinar series has profiled a variety of tools that coastal and marine practitioners have used to facilitate stakeholder engagement. Some general and easy-to-use tools include:

  • Google Earth and Google Maps (http://earth.google.com;http://maps.google.com) allow users to create interactive and 3D maps. Google Earth shows points, lines, and areas with icons of the user’s choice and links to web pages, pictures, and e-mail addresses. Google Maps helps create online custom maps that can be used to collect stakeholder and collaborator contributions, shared with colleagues and embedded in project websites. A training manual on using Google Earth and Google Maps is available at http://extension.unh.edu/GISGPS/GISINFO.cfm?crs=18. Additional information for putting maps and geographic information on the Web is available at http://clear.uconn.edu/training/maps.
  • EngagingPlans (Urban Interactive Studios; http://engagingplans.com) is a Web “microsite” that enables projects to launch and maintain interactive, project-specific websites to gather stakeholder feedback and share updates.
  • Audience response systems (available from multiple providers) help obtain feedback from stakeholders at key decision points. Traditionally these systems consisted of handheld keypads that sent signals to a base station for use at in-person public meetings. But now many systems use smartphones and Web platforms to eliminate the need for keypads, thus allowing inclusion of remote participants.

Webinar demonstrations of these tools are on the EBM Tools Network website at www.ebmtools.org/tools_training/presentations.html. In our next EBM Toolbox, we will profile additional stakeholder management tools that are more specialized for use in conservation and management projects.

(Sarah Carr is coordinator of the EBM Tools Network. Learn more about EBM tools and the EBM Tools Network at www.ebmtools.org.)