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Oceans contain the majority of the Earth’s biodiversity, and marine and coastal ecosystems provide food, income, protection, cultural identity, and recreation for billions of people. Development patterns and habitat loss, destructive and unsustainable fishing, land-based pollution and nutrient inflows, and the effects of climate change threaten the ability of coastal and marine ecosystems to provide these services. The Nature Conservancy's conservation mission and commitment to delivering long-term benefits to people and nature require our urgent action to design, put in place, and sustain management approaches that protect marine life while accommodating an increasing number and intensity of ocean uses.

Approach to Developing Decision Support

Decision support here refers to a suite of mechanisms (i.e. technological tools, hands-on engagement) for incorporating marine conservation strategies into planning or other decision making processes in order to achieve our conservation goals.  Decision support is a term that describes how we bring information and tools together to better inform decision making. The development of a specific decision support system (DSS) is driven by the question, problem, or decision it is intended to facilitate. Technology-based decision support (a major emphasis of our activity) includes information systems (i.e. databases) and spatial tools (i.e. software and web-based) that serve as a mechanism for enacting TNC strategies in local to regional planning processes in specific geographies. Properly implemented, decision support facilitates transparency and can engage a diverse array of people in the planning process. DSS can:

  • serve as a mechanism for integrating our conservation strategies into local and regional planning
  • facilitate conversations between diverse groups
  • reveal tradeoffs among possible management scenarios
  • provide a forum in which stakeholders share information and examine alternatives in real time
  • centralize data and information that represent one or more objectives and uses
  • capture, share, and compare many people’s ideas about a specific planning process
  • help people to understand the real-world implications of different management regimes
  • promote an important shift away from software programs and models that only address single management objectives
 

 Key Resources