In the last decade cumulative impact (CI) analysis has become an essential tool for the geospatial identification of highly impacted environmental components by marine anthropogenic uses. Since the application of Halpern’s CI analysis on global scale in 2008 (Halpern et al., 2008), several studies around the world have been investigating CI patterns on sea basin level, such as in the Mediterranean Sea (Micheli et al., 2013), Baltic Sea (Korpinen et al., 2012) or North Sea (Andersen et al., 2013).
Aim of the tool is to support the MSP process under an Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) by assessing the potential cumulative impacts of maritime activities on the marine environment.
The CI assessment tool was developed during the ADRIPLAN project (http://adriplan.eu). It is the core tool of the Tools4MSP, an open source geopython library. The tool was tested for the Adriatic-Ionian sub-basin, but can be deployed to any research area around the globe.
Figure 1. Stepwise methodological approach for the Cumulative Impact Assesment.
CI assessment in the Adriatic-Ionian sub-basin In contrast to Halpern 2008, who considered generic drivers of change, the CI assessment available in the Tools4MSP library considers human use specific pressures on environmental components (marine litter; underwater noise; input of organic matter, abrasion; etc…). Anthropogenic pressures are factors causing temporary or permanent disturbances or damage to one or several components of an ecosystem (MSFD 2008/56/EC). The CI tool implements pressures as the conversion factor between human activities and potential environmental impacts. The CI spatial model implemented can take into account the dispersion of the pressure generated by each single human use in form of a buffer distance. The stepwise methodology implemented for the CI assessment tool can be described as follows (Figure 1):