Ecosystem Service Tradeoff Analysis Reveals the Value of Marine Spatial Planning for Multiple Ocean Uses

PNASPNAS, March 20, 2012 vol. 109 no. 12 4696-4701

Crow White, Benjamin S. Halpern, and Carrie V. Kappel

“Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an emerging responsibility of resource managers around the United States and elsewhere. A key proposed advantage of MSP is that it makes tradeoffs in resource use and sector (stakeholder group) values explicit, but doing so requires tools to assess tradeoffs. We extended tradeoff analyses from economics to simultaneously assess multiple ecosystem services and the values they provide to sectors using a robust, quantitative, and transparent framework. We used the framework to assess potential conflicts among offshore wind energy, commercial fishing, and whale-watching sectors in Massachusetts and identify and quantify the value from choosing optimal wind farm designs that minimize conflicts among these sectors. Most notably, we show that using MSP over conventional planning could prevent >$1 million dollars in losses to the incumbent fishery and whale-watching sectors and could generate >$10 billion in extra value to the energy sector. The value of MSP increased with the greater the number of sectors considered and the larger the area under management. Importantly, the framework can be applied even when sectors are not measured in dollars (e.g., conservation). Making tradeoffs explicit improves transparency in decision-making, helps avoid unnecessary conflicts attributable to perceived but weak tradeoffs, and focuses debate on finding the most efficient solutions to mitigate real tradeoffs and maximize sector values. Our analysis demonstrates the utility, feasibility, and value of MSP and provides timely support for the management transitions needed for society to address the challenges of an increasingly crowded ocean environment. ”

A Spatio-temporal Analysis of Fire Recurrence and Extent for Semi-arid Savanna Ecosystems in Southern Africa using Moderate-resolution Satellite Imagery

Journal of Environmental ManagementJournal of Environmental Management, Volume 100, 15 June 2012, Pages 72–85

Narcisa G. Pricope and Michael W. Binford


  • We analyze changes in fire regimes over the last decade in southern Africa.
  • We compare changes in fire frequencies, seasonality, and area burned annually.
  • We apply the analyses to five countries with different land uses and management.
  • We find significant increases in fire frequencies in all land-use categories.
  • These results are in line with drying trends in southern Africa.

“Savanna ecosystems are semi-arid and fire-prone. Increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation in Southern Africa will probably have a series of strong impacts on the various components of fire regimes in these ecosystems that will, in turn, affect their ecology, structure, and function. This paper presents a geospatial analysis to quantify changes in fire frequency, seasonality and spatial distribution during the last decade and creates a fire return interval map for the core area of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five Southern African countries and is the largest cooperative multistate conservation region in the world. To disentangle the relative contribution of environmental variability from country-specific land management decisions in driving changes in fire regimes, we use two different products from the MODIS Terra platform (Active Fire and Burned Area products), TRMM precipitation data and the Multivariate ENSO Index data to analyze change in fire regimes among the five countries, differentiating between different land uses such as protected areas, forest reserves, and communal lands and accounting for specific changes in fire management policies. There are significant differences in fire frequencies between countries with more effective fire management (Botswana and Zimbabwe) and countries where anthropogenic, mainly early-dry season, burning is largely uncontrolled (Namibia, Angola, and Zambia), both within and outside protected areas, while all countries and land-use units show an overall increasing trend in fire occurrences. Large fire occurrences increased up to 200% in the period before the beginning of the natural fire season in Namibia, where a new prescribed burn policy was introduced in 2006, while the other countries show a slightly different shift in seasonality of increasing fire occurrences mainly during the dry season. The mean size of fires also increases significantly across all land uses despite increasing fire prevention efforts in most protected areas in the five countries. These findings can contribute to more effective transboundary natural resource and wildlife habitat management by providing a baseline assessment of fire return intervals across five countries with different fire management policies and have implications in the climate change arena.”