How can analyses of cumulative effects of human activities be incorporated into ecosystem-based management?

New publication by SeaUseTip coordinator Vanessa Stelzenmüller and colleagues

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When increasing human influences and fundamentally changing environmental conditions collide, the pressure on marine ecosystems becomes ever greater. And with it the danger of these systems tipping. This may have unpredictable consequences for nature and society.

How do these different effects interact, and what cumulative effects do they have in their entirety on different ecosystem components? Knowledge about this is a crucial prerequisite for sustainable decision-making processes and the development of effective management concepts. It is particularly important to translate scientific findings in such a way that they serve as a guideline for political decision-makers to take rapid, targeted action.

SeaUseTip coordinator Vanessa Stelzenmüller and her colleagues from the EU MARCONS Cost Action have dealt with this topic in their recent study. The scientists show how an assessment of cumulative effects can be sensibly incorporated into an integrated and ecosystem-based management process.

This management process must understand how human activities change the components, processes and functions of ecosystems. It is the starting point for the development of targeted measures and strategies for the spatial and temporal control of human activities. These can help to restore the balance between maintaining and restoring ecosystem conditions and taking social and economic interests into account.

The success of such measures depends to a large extent on scientists, management and interest groups speaking a common language and on transparent communication of uncertainties along the process.

Click here for the publication.