Marine biological valuation integrates all biological and ecological information that is available for a study area into a relative biological value. The resulting biological valuation map (BVM) is easy to interpret and translates complex scientific data into a tool that can be used by policy makers as a baseline layer for spatial planning at sea. When such BVM is lacking, managers can only trust on the available best expert judgement to include biological aspects into their decisions, a process which lacks transparency and objectivity. The development of an acceptable and practical valuation protocol can only be established when it is iteratively applied to different test cases.
In this paper, three case study areas are biologically valuated: the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS), the Isles of Scilly in the UK (IoS) and the Dutch part of the North Sea (DPNS). The paper specifically explores how the methodology deals with different levels of data availability by comparing highly monitored areas like the BPNS with less data rich areas as the BPNS and the IoS. Two types of valuation maps are constructed for the IoS, one based on quantitative data and one on qualitative presence/absence data, to see whether the quality of the data has any impact on the outcome of the valuation.
The final BVMs indicated clear patterns in biological value, with coastal areas harbouring the highest biological value in all case studies. Low data quality and quantity does not seem to hamper the development of preliminary BVMs, although the reliability of these maps is low. Subzone size selection is a crucial step in the valuation protocol and relevance for the ecosystem components under consideration should always be preferred to practical considerations to obtain better valuation coverage of the area.
Despite some weaknesses of the methodology, the availability of BVMs gives the opportunity to answer policy questions related to the biological value of areas in a transparent, objective way.
|Title of host publication||Mariene biologische waardering als een beslissingsondersteunende techniek voor marien beheer.|
|Number of pages||42|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|
- Natura 2000 and conservation objectives
- Coast and estuaries