Marine Planning
Practical Approaches to Ocean and Coastal Decision-Making

Pacific Northwest Coast

Researchers examined different scenarios of conservation priorities using integrated and un-integrated threat analyses in the Pacific Northwest Coast ecoregion. The analysis presented here was performed after the formal ecoregional assessment (pdf, 5.6MB) of freshwater, terrestrial and coastal marine environments. Researchers developed a threats analysis that included five cross-system impacts, or features in one ecological realm that affect species in another realm. Shoreline hardening was considered as a threat to coastal terrestrial ecosystems, and road density, logging, agriculture and urban development as threats to marine ecosystems and habitats.

The analysis used two proxies of freshwater influence, validated against a mechanistic model and field observations, to propagate land-based threats into the marine environment. The researchers evaluated the influence of these cross-system impacts on conservation priorities by comparing site selection outputs for three scenarios that identified terrestrial and marine priorities simultaneously: no threats, single-system threats, or impacts in one environment affecting only that environment, and cross-system threats. There were 387 targets (species, habitats, etc; 55% terrestrial, 45% marine) used for this analysis, taken from the data provided in the ecoregional assessment and models of the Columbia River plume. In these threat scenarios, the analysis identified a collection of sites that met three primary goals:

  1. Maximum representation of biodiversity
  2. Minimum total area
  3. Minimal potential for ongoing or future threats


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