Editor's note: The goal of the following feature, The EBM Toolbox, is to promote awareness of technology tools that can facilitate EBM processes, and provide advice on using those tools effectively. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network (www.ebmtools.org), a voluntary alliance of leading tool users, developers, and training providers to promote awareness, development, and effective use of technology tools for EBM in coastal and marine environments and the watersheds that affect them. The EBM Toolbox will be a recurring feature in MEAM.

By Sarah Carr

Ecosystem-based management of coastal and marine environments requires the integration of information about a vast array of environmental and human systems. Many different kinds of technology tools have been developed to help policymakers and managers collect, visualize, and analyze this information and engage stakeholders in the EBM decision-making process. For example, EBM tools can help:

  • Collect local knowledge on resource use, such as favorite areas for fishing or diving;
  • Visualize the impact of development on a coastal community and coastal ecosystems;
  • Select optimal areas for conservation, restoration, or development; and
  • Collect stakeholder feedback on management alternatives.

When you get started using EBM tools, you should:

  • Determine what you want to get from using tools, what resources you have available to use them, and how you will integrate tools in your management decision-making process. The EBM Tools Network provides a series of questions to help with these decisions at www.ebmtools.org/using_tools.html. The webpage also offers several best practices for using EBM tools, gathered from practitioners worldwide (scroll down to "Using EBM Tools Effectively").
  • Research the available EBM tools and what each can and cannot do for your project. On the ebmtools.org website, click on "Find Tools" to access a searchable database of EBM tools. Once you have located tools that might be useful, you should contact the tool developers and other tool users for more detailed information and advice.

[Sarah Carr is coordinator for the EBM Tools Network. Learn more about EBM tools and the EBM Tools Network at www.ebmtools.org, or by contacting Carr at sarah_carr@natureserve.org.]