Northern Shelf Bioregion Ecosystem Services Baseline Model

Project Details

British Columbia
BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
2020 – 2021
Team Member(s):
Cedar Morton, Natascia Tamburello, Caitlin Semmens, Erica Olson
Service Area(s):
Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences
Services Employed:
Ecological modelling

The Problem We Aimed to Solve

The health of our oceans effects us all. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are established to ensure the protection of our oceans, and the Northern Shelf Marine Protected Area Network planning process is key to the protection of the Pacific Ocean. ESSA’s role is part of something bigger – to ensure the beauty and productivity of our oceans – by developing a spatially explicit model that predicts ecosystem service provision under a baseline Marine Protected Area (MPA) management configuration.

How We Helped

ESSA helped develop the Marine Ecosystems Service Model (MESM), a model of the British Columbia Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) that allowed users to apply alternate Marine Protected Area (MPA) configurations to compare different ecosystem service provision against the baseline. To help identify which areas to focus on, ESSA developed a tool to help identify six ecosystems services that are important to people in the BC NSB region.

ESSA developed the Priority Ecosystem Services Inventory (PESI) criteria-based prioritization tool to help identify six ecosystem services to prioritize in our model development. Our project focused on a priority subset of six ecosystems services that are important to people in the region: 1) Carbon Storage & Sequestration, 2) Marine Plant/Algae Production, 3) Erosion Prevention, 4) Tourism/ Recreation Opportunities, 5) Food Production, and 6) Habitat Provision. The MESM model helped predict how the provisions of the 6 different ecosystem services would change under different Marine Protected AREA (MPA) configurations.

Our Project’s Impacts

ESSA worked closely with technical advisors from the provincial and federal government, and member First Nations, including a presentation to a broader audience to ensure the results would reflect the community needs and perspective. ESSA produced a complete model system, baseline results, sensitivity analyses, and a Technical Guidance Document with instructions on how to use and interpret the model. Potential methods of how to capture results for 8 other ecosystem services that were identified as priority areas were provided.