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Identifying Priority Areas for Marine Conservation In British Columbia: A Collaborative Approach

31 Dec 2010

Implementation of marine conservation measures has been slow in British Columbia, providing the motivation for initiating the British Columbia Marine Conservation Analysis (BCMCA) project. The purpose of the BCMCA project is to collaboratively identify areas of high conservation interest for the marine waters of British Columbia. The project team is comprised of representatives from academia, First Nations organizations, non-profit environmental groups, federal and provincial government agencies, and user groups. The BCMCA project is developing two products: 1) an atlas of known ecological and human use values; and 2) a series of Marxan spatial analyses. The atlas will map ecological data, human use data, areas where data are lacking, and a combination of areas of ecological value and more intensive human use. The Marxan spatial analyses will iteratively identify: 1) areas with high conservation value based on ecological data only; 2) areas of high conservation value that minimize overlap with areas important to human use; and 3) areas of high conservation value that incorporate additional marine reserve design considerations. To guide and inform the analysis, we held five ecological expert workshops focused on various ecosystem components, are engaging user groups, and have a workshop planned to refine analysis methods. The ecological workshops drew on the knowledge and expertise of resource managers, the conservation community, academics and First Nations, to help assemble and use the best available data – biological, ecological and oceanographic – in developing sound, defensible analysis methods and products. Results of the BCMCA project are intended to advance marine planning initiatives in British Columbia by collaboratively and iteratively identifying potential areas of high conservation value.

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Tags: conservation marine environment British Columbia

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