Living Reference Work Entry

Marine Animal Forests

pp 1-25

Date: Latest Version

Ecosystem-Based Management: Opportunities and Challenges for Application in the Ocean Forest

  • Jake RiceAffiliated withFisheries and Oceans Canada Email author 
  • , Anthony D. M. SmithAffiliated withCSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere


The policy history of the Ecosystem Approach (EA) is first reviewed, from the perspectives of both intergovernmental agencies involved in resource management and agencies focused on conservation of biodiversity, focusing on how the agencies adapted the EA to the marine environment. This provides the general interpretation of “ecosystem approach,” but at a conceptual level that needs to be substantially operationalized. To approach that operationalization, three case histories of applying the EA in the ocean forests of Australia are summarized. These include a place-based application, a threat-based application, and an attempt at an application simultaneously taking both components into the planning and implementation of an ecosystem approach. Building on those case histories the chapter explores how well the “ocean forest” analogy actually transfers into marine conservation and management. To do so, the chapter reviews the mature ecosystem approach and sustainable use frameworks from terrestrial forestry. The review summarizes the forest synthesis of ecosystem protection and management, and then evaluates the components of the synthesis in terms of applicability to marine rather than terrestrial ecosystems, and the forests of the ocean. The discussion concludes that the forestry operationalization as a useful basis for implementing an ecosystem approach in the ocean forests would require significant adaptations. These would change the focus from direct harvesting of the forest itself to the harvesting of resources found in the ocean forest. Thus, the analogy of an ocean forest may have limitations when viewed in a policy and management context.


Ecosystem approach Conservation and sustainable use Ocean forests Forestry Biodiversity Area-based management