Agreement on modifying criteria during December 2006 workshop on marine biological valuation?

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At a workshop in Belgium consderation was given to developing criteria for valuing the marine environment. Agreement was reached on first order criteria. This article considers other factors that might modify the first order criteraia. It is part of a summary of the discussions held during a workshop on marine biological valuation, held from 6 to 8 December 2006 at Ghent (Belgium). The workshop was a joint venture of the EU CA ENCORA ( and the EU NoE MARBEF ( Both Theme 7 within ENCORA and Theme 3 within MARBEF deal with marine/coastal biological valuation and the workshop aimed to reach a consensus on this topic.

Is 'naturalness' a suitable modifying valuation criterion?

  • This criterion could be included as a modifier if we can provide a clear definition and algorithms to assess it.
  • However, as it is very difficult to define and apply this criterion without reference to human impact and as we mostly do not know what the natural state of most waters is, the participants agree to exclude ‘naturalness’ from the list of modifying criteria.
  • Naturalness is something that should be assessed as a second step after a biological valuation is done. Naturalness can then be linked to different impact sources, leading to different maps. Integration of this kind of information in a biological valuation map is not useful to managers.
  • So, there are no modifying criteria anymore, only two first-order criteria which are applied on all biodiversity elements and on two different scales (at the scale of the study area and on a broader ecoregional scale).

Is 'proportional importance' a suitable modifying valuation criterion?

  • Instead of keeping ‘proportional importance’ as a modifying criterion, the group agreed to do the valuation on two different levels.
    • First the valuation should be done at the local level of the study area and afterwards the valuation can be done on a broader (ecoregional) level.
    • Such exercise would be very useful to compare the values of the subareas on both levels (are the subareas with high value on a national scale also valued high on an ecoregional scale?).

Are there any modifying criteria lacking in the concept?

  • The group agreed that no additional modifiers are needed.


These paragraphs reflect the main discussion outcomes of the ENCORA Theme 7-MARBEF Theme 3 workshop on marine biological valuation (6-8 December 2006, Gent, Belgium). (