New geospatial methods for exploring tradeoffs in marine conservation planning

Source : CRSNG (Conseil de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles et en Génie du Canada)
Programme : Subvention à la découverte et supplément d’accélération à la découverte
Période : 2017-2022
Chercheur(s) du centre impliqué(s):

  • Rodolphe Devillers

Résumé :
From transportation to resource management and health, geospatial data and technologies are now
used to support decisions in most sectors of our society. The increasing volume, complexity and
diversity of data creates however a need for new methods that can help identify, summarize and
visualize information relevant to decision-makers, something that is the focus of many research
projects in geomatics, computer sciences, geography and other disciplines. In the marine
environment, geospatial technologies became a key tool supporting the planning of our ocean use
(e.g. Marine Spatial Planning) and more specifically to help design and monitor marine protected
areas. From simple uses of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map different variables, to
more complex methods and systems that help analyzing data and supporting decisions, geospatial
data and systems play an increasing role in marine conservation planning. While a range of
approaches and tools already support conservation planning efforts, the complexity of those
decisions is rarely captured and still calls for new methods.
In Canada, planning of new marine protected areas (MPAs) is ongoing in our three oceans. Canada
committed to increase its MPAs from less than 1% of its territorial waters to at least 10% in less
than 5 years, a trend that is expected to continue after. Such process requires the integration of large
and diverse biological and socio-economic datasets and the involvement of many stakeholders.
Exploring trade-offs between the need for diverse human activities (e.g. fishing, oil and gas
exploration, shipping, tourism) and the need to protect fragile and valuable ecosystems is at the core
of those processes that are often aiming to reach consensus with the different stakeholders. Existing
methods however tend to only offer very simple ways to capture those trade-offs, and more
research is required to design and test new methods that can help providing methods and tools that
would allow decision-makers and stakeholders to better explore alternative conservation scenarios,
their respective strengths and weaknesses, uncertainties, etc.
The proposed research aims at exploring how geospatial approaches used for supporting decisions
in other fields can contribute to the field of marine conservation planning.
Specific research objectives are to:
1. Design and test approaches based on methods from the field of decision-theory that can help
capture and communicate in the form of simple indicators complex trade-offs between biodiversity
conservation and the socio-economic use of the oceans.
2. Explore how methods from the field of geovisual analytics can be used to design visualizations
allowing decision-makers and stakeholders to explore trade-offs and conservation options.
3. Develop methods for visualizing, exploring and comparing alternative conservation scenarios.