Structured Decision-Making to Facilitate Multi-Stakeholder Coastal Conservation and Restoration under Climate Change Uncertainties: Case Study on Barrier Island of the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Science Center Objects

Barrier island resource managers within the northern Gulf of Mexico have the opportunity to more directly incorporate scientific uncertainties and technological challenges inherent with large-scale barrier island restoration projects, and as such, commit to developing robust long-term monitoring programs and applying adaptive management.

Adaptive Management graphic

Adaptive management graphic

The Science Issue and Relevance: Barrier island resource managers within the northern Gulf of Mexico have the opportunity to more directly incorporate scientific uncertainties and technological challenges inherent with large-scale barrier island restoration projects, and as such, commit to developing robust long-term monitoring programs and applying adaptive management. They are looking for a process that can help develop adaptive management actions and tools to guide adaptive decision-making within the context of project construction, maintenance as well as future prioritization of conservation actions. Structured decision making (SDM) is a formal process for analyzing and making decisions by breaking the problem and solution into components that are weighed through a transparent and replicable process. Developing a structured decision making process will improve the quality of the decision being made through a process that is transparent, explicit, deliberative, documented and replicable. It will also provide transparency in the decision process and provide the backbone for adaptive management strategies and decision criteria that will be used over time. The objective of the project is to use SDM to support existing and future comprehensive barrier island restoration planning, implementation, and assessment in the northern Gulf of Mexico. 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: The Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MSCIP) served as a case study for development of a decision making tool for barrier island restoration and conservation in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Through a series of webinars and stakeholder engagement meetings, a prototype decision framework was designed (with explicit feedbacks to monitoring data and information) to identify management decisions that optimize the protection, conservation, and sustainability of barrier island footprints and the habitats they support. The SDM framework that was used included an assessment of Problems, Objectives, Alternatives, Consequences and Tradeoffs (PrOACT).

Future Steps: Refinement and completion of the Bayesian Decision Network, development and documentation of management recommendation for the resource managers and development of manuscripts. In addition the agencies and natural resource managers participating in this study will be provided the SDM tools and documentation to carry forward in their programs, providing opportunities to refine to specific adaptive management needs in the future.