Looking at the Big Picture: Implementing Ecosystem-Based Management in Parks

Ecosystem-Based Management, sometimes referred to as EBM, is a planning tool. It helps guide decisions on where to place development such as roads, buildings, trails, beaches etc., while also considering the long and short term impacts to the environment. It also looks at how development effects not just the surrounding environment, but also the upstream and downstream environment.  EBM helps remind us to take the big picture view when we do work in our State Parks.

New York State Parks’ Environmental Management Bureau has been implementing Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) in our parks statewide since 2008.

EBM relies on citizen participation, partnerships, science-based approaches, and taking a long-term view   to provide an informed and adaptive approach to protecting our ecosystems while providing park patrons with experiences that connect them to the natural world.

There are 6 main components to EBM. These include:

  1. Place-based focus;
  2. Scientific foundations used for decision-making;
  3. Measurable management objectives to direct and evaluate performance;
  4. Adaptive management to respond to new knowledge;
  5. Recognition of interconnections within and among ecosystems; and,
  6. Involvement of stakeholders.

Taking this approach allows us to look at interacting systems, like watersheds, rather than individual components, such as a specific plant or animal or isolated water quality parameters.  NYS Parks has used this approach to help better understand, protect and manage our resources, such as swimming beaches, lake water quality, forest health, species richness, and aquatic connectivity.

In addition to helping us look at our natural environment in a more integrated way, EBM provides a means to communicate with multiple stakeholders including citizens, scientists, the private sector and government officials.

Ecosystem Based Management Education Panel_1

Ecosystem Based Management Panels at Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island.
Ecosystem Based Management Panels at Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island. Click to enlarge images.

NYS Parks will continue to integrate EBM into programs andactivities through training, watershed educational materials and ecosystem research, as well as projects which demonstrate that healthy ecosystems mean healthy communities.  Look for these EBM educational panels at Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island (pictured above)! More educational panels and kiosks showing how our parks are part of the larger landscape are in the works for parks along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes.  Keep an eye out for them!

Post by Gabriella Cebada Mora, OPRHP.

 

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