A Biological Valuation Map for the Belgian Continental Shelf
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From 2-4 December 2004 an international workshop on marine biological valuation was held in Ghent (Belgium).

The focus of the workshop was on the selection and use of valuation criteria in the marine environment. This selection of criteria constitutes the first work package of the BWZee project and is therefore a crucial step towards the further development of a scientifically underpinned biological valuation map.

The input of a team of international experts on biological valuation of the marine environment in this criteria selection helped us to develop a solid and scientifically acceptable methodology which is applicable in every marine environment. So, while the scope of the project is to develop a national BVM, the workshop enabled us to produce a valuation strategy that could be applied worldwide.

It was emphasized during the workshop that:

  1. a marine biological valuation strategy should suit the dynamic and complex character of the marine environment

  2. the criteria must be simple and univocal, so they can be applied to all marine life forms and ecosystems

  3. a marine BVM should also be easy to interpret and be useful for marine policy

  4. the map(s) must represent a realistic view of the intrinsic value of the marine area

Several methods for biological valuation in the marine environment or site selection criteria for the installation of nature protection areas (Bird/Habitat Directive areas, MPAs, Ramsar areas,...) already exist. Before the international expert workshop a review of all available methods/criteria, described in the literature was carried out and this evaluation was used as a starting point for the discussions within the workshop. (This review can be consulted on the restricted part of this website by the projectpartners and the international experts)

A database of all literature incorporated in this review can be consulted here. Since several projects to develop similar valuation tools are being initiated in different regions, the consultation of this overview could significantly decrease the effort of finding the relevant literature.

Also, a BVM for the terrestrial part of Belgium already exists and the methodology used to develop this map was presented during the workshop (see presentation of Desiré Paelinckx below). This greatly enhanced the comprehension of the objectives of the marine BVM.

So the main objectives of the international expert workshop were:

  1. To discuss the working document on existing biological valuation criteria/methods.

  2. To develop a practical valuation strategy that can be applied in the marine environment, with consideration of the most appropriate valuation criteria, methods to apply them and development of a scoring system.
A summary of the discussions held during this workshop is given in the workshop report which can be consulted here (restricted access).

The different experts that were present during the workshop all gave interesting presentations on the subject of marine biological valuation and on their personal expertise. The presentations can be consulted below (it may take some time to download these files, some of them are quite large).
The abstracts of the presentations are provided in the workshop report (restricted access).

We are currently preparing a scientific paper on marine biological valuation, outlining the valuation strategy that was developed during the workshop.
Supported by
the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office

General coordination: Magda Vincx, Steven Degraer
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