Adaptive Management

Adaptive management is a systematic approach for improving management through learning by monitoring and evaluating management outcomes, often referred to as ‘learning by doing’.

Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA)

CBA is a process for appraising projects or proposals but can be used as an informal approach to making all types of economic decisions. The process involves weighing the total expected costs against the total expected benefits of one or more actions in order to choose the best or most profitable option.

Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA)

CEA is a form of economic analysis that compares the relative costs and outcomes of two or more courses of action.

Ecosystem Approach

There are a number of different definitions of the ecosystem approach, for example:

  • OSPAR defines it as: “the comprehensive integrated management of human activities based on the best available scientific knowledge about the ecosystem and its dynamics, in order to identify and take action on influences which are critical to the health of marine ecosystems, thereby achieving sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services and maintenance of ecosystem integrity”.
  • The US Inter-agency Ecosystem Management Task Force (1995) defined it as: 'a method for sustaining or restoring natural systems and their functions and values. It is goal driven, and based on a collaboratively-developed vision of devised future condition that integrates ecological, economic and social factors. It is applied within a geographic framework defined primarily by ecological boundaries.'

The Convention on Biological Diversity website also provides useful descriptions of the ecosystem approach

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The assessment of the possible impact that a proposed project may have on the environment. For many types of development or activity there is a formal requirement to undertake EIA in accordance with the requirements of the EC Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (85/334/EEC as modified by 97/11/EC)

Marine Spatial Planning

Ehler & Fouvere (2009) established a working definition as follows:

‘Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that are usually specified through a political process’.

Multi-criteria Analysis (MCA)

MCA is a framework which allows decision-makers to evaluate and rank a range of different management options according to a set of well-defined evaluation criteria.

Precautionary Principle

The Convention on Biological Diversity defines this as ‘Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation’.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA)

The International Association for Impact Assessment defines SIA as including ‘the processes of analysing, monitoring and managing the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, of planned interventions (policies, programs, plans, projects) and any social change processes invoked by those interventions’

Spatial Planning

The RTPI has defined spatial planning  as ‘critical thinking about space and place as a basis for action or intervention’ (RTPI, 2003). See ‘What is Spatial Planning?’ for further description.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

SEA is a system for incorporating environmental considerations into policies, plans and programmes. The EC SEA Directive (2001/42/EC) makes this a formal requirement for certain plans and programmes.

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

In English planning law, SA is an appraisal of the economic, environmental and social effects of a plan from the outset of the preparation process to allow decisions to be made that accord with sustainable development. SA is also a formal requirement of marine plans under the Marine & Coastal Access Act 2009. SA incorporates the requirements of the EC SEA Directive.

Trade-off Analysis

Trade-off analysis is a decision support process that can be used where there are
multiple objectives and/ or resource use conflicts. It generally involves:

  • Identifying the interests and importance of all stakeholders (formal stakeholder analysis);
  • Engaging with key stakeholder groups through scenario development;
  • Iterative weighting of information within participatory multi-criteria analysis; and
  • Consensus building among stakeholders towards common goals.