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Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is a place-based approach to natural resource use that aims to restore and protect the health, function and resilience of entire ecosystems for the benefit of all organisms.

How does it work?

Ecosystem-based management is a framework for developing effective management plans based on an accepted set of guiding principles. An ecosystem-based management plan should:

  • Emphasize the health of the whole ecosystem ahead of the concerns of special interests;
  • Be focused on a particular place, with boundaries that are scientifically defined;
  • Account for the ways in which things or actions in that place affect each other;
  • Consider the way things or actions in this place can influence or be influenced by things or actions on land (like dams or fertilizers in the watershed), in the air (like air pollution), or in different parts of the ocean (like fishing or oil spills); and
  • Integrate the concerns of the environment, society, the economy and our institutions.

These guiding principles and some of the underlying structure of this Web site are based on the 2005 Scientific Consesnsus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-based Management and updated peer-reviewed publications.

How is ecosystem-based management different?

Ecosystem-based management is a long-term, integrated approach that recognizes humans are part of and have significant influences on their environments. It is a shift away from conventional management paradigms that are often jurisdictional, short term and consider humans to be independent of nature. An ecosystem-based management plan includes adaptive management strategies and trade-offs, whether between ecosystem services, management strategies or other components of the plan, that are made as explicitly as possible.

Below are resources to assist practitioners with taking an ecosystem-based approach to terrestrial and marine management in the context of protected area network design and implementation. Ecosystem-based management is a realtively new field and much of the literature is recent and still emerging. Recent publications for marine protected areas (MPAs) provide guidance on creating MPA networks to achieve multiple objectives (e.g., fisheries and biodiversity).  In the terrestrial field, a recent publication entitled Pacific Integrated Island Management provides excellent guidance for maximising effectiveness of integrated island management.


'The Future is Now: Science for Sustainable Development' - Global Sustainable Development Report 2019

Despite considerable efforts these past four years, we are not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We must dramatically step up the pace of implementation as we enter a decisive decade for people and the planet.

A Community-based Approach to Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management; a Guide for Pacific Island Countries

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). 2010. A Community-based Approach to Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management; a Guide for Pacific Island Countries. Noumea, New Caledonia.

Best practice guidelines for mangrove restoration

The Best Practice Guidelines for Mangrove Restoration is a joint product developed by the Global Mangrove Alliance and the Blue Carbon Initiative, led by the University of Queensland, Conservation International, Wetlands International, Blue Marine Foundation and the International Blue Carbon Inst

Biophysical Principles for Designing Resilient Networks of Marine Protected Areas to Integrate Fisheries Biodiversity and Climate Change Objectives in The Coral Triangle

Fernandes, L, Green, A., Tanzer, J., White, A., Alino,P.M., Jompa, J., Lokani, P., Soemodinoto,A., Knight, M., Pomeroy, B., Possingham, H., Pressey, B. 2012.

Custodians of the globe’s blue carbon assets

Over the last decades scientists have discovered that seagrass meadows, tidal marshes, and mangroves – “blue carbon” ecosystems – are among the most intensive carbon sinks in the biosphere.

Developing a framework for the efficient design and management of large scale marine protected areas

This study identifies the importance of: acquiring robust baseline data, being fully protected (no-take), using ecosystembased management, community inclusion, and of adopting an ecologically connected network approach.

Ecosystem services for human health in Oceania

The state of ecosystems and the health and well-being of people that depend on them are fundamentally linked.

Ecosystem-based adaptation options assessment and masterplan for Honiara, Solomon Islands

This report presents the Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Options Assessment and Masterplan for Honiara prepared as part of the Solomon Islands Ecosystems and Socio-economic Resilience Analysis and Mapping (ESRAM) to assess and prioritise climate change-related ecosystem-based adaptation options

Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network

The Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network is a premier source of information about planning and management tools in the United States and internationally.

Efficacy of Alternative Low-cost Approaches to Mangrove Restoration, American Samoa

Three mangrove restoration methods were tested at Nu’uuli, Tutuila Island, American Samoa.

European Commission Science for Environment Policy Future Brief 24: The solution is in nature.

The science is clear: the biodiversity crisis, the climate crisis and the health crisis are interdependent.

Fisheries Management, Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries

FAO Technical Guidelines for Fisheries Management. 2011. Fisheries Management, Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries. FAO, UN, Rome, Italy.

Guidelines for conserving connectivity through ecological networks and corridors

Ecological connectivity is the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth.

Harnessing island–ocean connections to maximize marine benefits of island conservation

Islands  support  unique  plants,  animals,  and  human societies found nowhere else on the Earth. Local and global stressors threaten the persistence of island ecosystems, with invasive species being among the most damaging, yet solvable, stressors.

Integrated Island Management in the Solomon Islands

Govan, H., A. Schwarz, and D Boso 2011. Towards Integrated Island Management: Lessons from Lau, Malaita, for the implementation of a national approach to resource management in Solomon Islands.  WorldFish report to SPREP.

Island Innovations: Leveraging the Environment for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States

Small Island Developing States are pioneering integrated and inclusive approaches to sustainable development through comprehensive ridge-to-reef approaches that address the ‘whole island’ issues of conserving land, water and ocean resources while adapting to climate change, enhancing local capaci

Issues Brief - Nature-based climate solutions

The conservation, rehabilitation and climate-informed management of biodiversity and ecosystems increases resilience to climate change and provides low-cost and long-term solutions to protect lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and advance progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

Legal Frameworks for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation to Climate Change in the Pacific Islands

This report is primarily directed to analysing the legal aspects of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change.

Mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management in the Pacific Islands

The document introduces best practices for integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services into agriculture for the Pacific region, including: diversification and integration of farming systems (cropping, agro-forestry and agro-silvipastoral systems); strengthening resilience of production systems a

Mangrove reforestation provides greater blue carbon benefit than afforestation for mitigating global climate change

Significant efforts have been invested to restore mangrove forests worldwide through reforestation and afforestation. However, blue carbon benefit has not been compared between these two silvicultural pathways at the global scale.

Marine Biodiversity Conservation in the South Pacific (MACBIO)

The objective of MACBIO is to improve management of the marine and coastal biodiversity of mountainous volcanic islands (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu) and flat island

Marine zoning revisited: How decades of zoning the Great Barrier Reef has evolved as an effective spatial planning approach for marine ecosystem‐based management

For more than 40 years, marine zoning has played a key role while evolving as part of the adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park.

Marshall Islands' National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The purpose of this Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) is to Assist the Marshall Islands to Plan for the Conservation of its biodiversity and for in the sustainable use of its biological resources.

Minimizing cross-realm threats from land-use change: A national-scale conservation framework connecting land, freshwater and marine systems

There is a growing recognition that conservation strategies should be designed accounting for cross-realm connections, such as freshwater connections to land and sea, to ensure effectiveness of marine spatial protection and minimize perverse outcomes of changing land-use.

National mitigation potential from natural climate solutions in the tropics

Better land stewardship is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal, particularly in the tropics, where greenhouse gas emissions from the destruction of ecosystems are largest, and where the potential for additional land carbon storage is greatest.

Nature-based solutions for adapting to water-related climate risks

Countries are facing a pressing, complex and interlinked set of environmental crises.

Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Climate Change Adaptation and Wellbeing: Evidence and Opportunities From Kiribati, Samoa, and Vanuatu

Climate change and urbanisation in combination put great pressure on terrestrial and ocean ecosystems, vital for subsistence and wellbeing in both rural and urban areas of Pacific islands. Adaptation is urgently required.

Navigating transformation of biodiversity and climate

This planet is the home of life, born into existence and transformed over 3.8 billion years into a continuous tapestry, covering all possible places from the deep ocean floors to mountain summits.

Pacific Coral Reef Action Plan 2021–2030

Many Pacific coral reefs are being damaged by habitat disturbance, pollution, fishing and climate change. Climate change is believed to be the greatest human-induced threat to corals in the Pacific region. The region needs an action plan to make cohesive decisions that will benefit coral reefs.

Pacific Islands Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas 2021- 2025

This Pacific Islands Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas2021-2025 is the principal regional strategy document for environmental conservation in the Pacific.

Priority areas to protect mangroves and maximise ecosystem services

Anthropogenic activities threaten global biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet, area-based conservation efforts typically target biodiversity protection whilst minimising conflict with economic activities, failing to consider ecosystem services.

Republic of Fiji National Ocean Policy 2020-2030

Fijians have been at the forefront of ocean action and leadership because it i our responsibility as an oceanic people. Fiji is a nation of over 300 islands whose past, present and future are intrinsically linked to the ocean.

Rigorously Valuing the Role of U.S. Coral Reefs in Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction

The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards.

Role of Insurance in Protecting Marine Coastal Ecosystems in Asia and the Pacific

Marine coastal ecosystems (MCEs) provide a myriad of services on which governments, businesses, and society depend. MCEs include coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass, oyster beds and reefs, salt marshes, and sandy beaches and dunes.

The Policy Implications of the Dasgupta Review: Land Use Change and Biodiversity

The “Dasgupta Review” of the economics of biodiversity (Dasgupta 2021) identifies many factors that threaten the ecological sustainability of our economies.

The Protective Value of Nature

The Protective Value of Nature summarizes the latest science on the effectiveness of natural infrastructure in lowering the risks to communities from weather- and climate-related hazards—benefits that we often describe as “natural defenses.” Over the past two decades, the body of research evaluat

The Republic of the Marshall Islands - State of Environment Report 2016

This report updates the 1992 State of Environment report with the latest findings from the Marshall Islands. Environmental reporting is defined as a requirement for RMI in the ‘Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC) Act 2003’.

The State of the World's Mangroves 2022

Healthy mangrove ecosystems are critical for global climate action – playing a key role in carbon storage and in building resilience to a rapidly warming world.

Vanuatu National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan [NBSAP] 2018-2030

Vanuatu signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) joining other 190 CBD parties to protect our global biodiversity. Vanuatu’s first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) was developed and endorsed in November 1999.