B-USEFUL activities—we highlight our key initiatives aimed at protecting marine biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem services.

Our main activities focus on developing innovative tools and solutions, advancing biodiversity monitoring and data standardization, conducting comprehensive data analyses and modeling, translating knowledge into actionable policy advice and actively engaging end-users in co-creation processes. Through these efforts, we strive to support sustainable marine management and conservation. Explore the sections below to learn more about our specific activities and their impacts.

For the latest updates on workshops and other events, please visit our News & Events section.

2023—Marine Biodiversity Indicators

Key Insights from Stakeholder Workshops


What characterizes useful indicators of marine biodiversity? In 2023 we had three workshops where stakeholders and B-USEFUL project researchers met to discuss this. The valuable outputs of these discussions have been distilled into seven key pieces of advice, summarized below. These recommendations will guide the ongoing work of the B-USEFUL project in developing and assessing biodiversity indicators.

Infographic B-USEFUL activities steakholder workshops.svg

+ 1 Integrated Approach

  • Use a variety of complementary indicators to capture the complexity of biodiversity.
  • Focus on an ecosystem approach, considering climate change and cumulative environmental impacts.
  • Implement Essential Biodiversity Variables to harmonize indicators across genetic, species, and ecosystem levels.

+ 2 Desirable Characteristics of Indicators

  • Relevant: Align with the objectives of marine protected areas (MPAs) and biodiversity policies.
  • Actionable: Support effective management actions.
  • Responsive: Reflect changes due to human or climatic stressors.
  • Harmonizable: Facilitate standardization and harmonization across scales.
  • Feasible: Cost-effective and practical to obtain and assess.

+ 3 Establish Reference Levels

  • Define acceptable states for indicators to guide management.
  • Develop consensus on reference levels despite historical anthropogenic pressures.
  • Use current levels as references when historical data is unavailable.

+ 4 Include Representation of Uncertainty

  • Clearly communicate the uncertainty associated with indicator data.
  • Present uncertainty in non-technical terms to enhance relevance and reliability in decision-making.

+ 5 Include Socio-Economic Information

  • Integrate economic and social importance of marine areas into biodiversity assessments.
  • Enable informed decisions about conservation and use trade-offs.
  • Develop scenarios that combine socio-economic and biodiversity aspects.

+ 6 Active and Targeted Communication

  • Develop communication strategies tailored to different stakeholder groups.
  • Simplify complex technical indicators for broader understanding and use.
  • Ensure clear and effective dissemination of indicator information.

+ 7 Barriers to Achieving Goals

  • Address conflicts between environmental protection and economic activities.
  • Clarify the use of various biodiversity indicators and reduce confusion.
  • Improve coordination between policies and implementation actions at different scales.
  • Enhance access to relevant data to assess biodiversity on regional scales.

Conclusion and Next Steps

The insights gained from this workshop will inform the B-USEFUL project’s continued development of marine biodiversity indicators. Current results, along with forthcoming evaluations from future workshops, will be used in defining scenarios and developing decision support tools.

2023—Serious play

Indicators for Biodiversity: Lessons on Usefulness and Essentiality


B-USEFUL will first identify end-user needs and work with experts to co-develop biodiversity indicators, targets and scenarios. Based on these components, it can carry out model forecasts of changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services. To identify end user-needs, a serious game was designed: iBLUE.

‘Serious games’ have the primary purpose to communicate, collect information, educate or gain insight, apart from pure entertainment. The iBLUE-game is developed as a means to inform policy makers and area managers on biodiversity indicators. By playing it, we also collect information on the needs and barriers of end-users in marine biodiversity management, in specific regarding the use of biodiversity indicators and the realization of management measures in order to realize an improved biodiversity.

The iBLUE-game is played with end-users to gather data on policy makers‘ decision making in biodiversity management. The participants take on the role of a national policymaker who must implement marine protected areas, while balancing environmental concerns against other interests, such as wind energy implementation and fishing activities. They are motivated to set up biodiversity monitoring programs to support marine spatial planning. Why do they protect certain areas, and not others? How do they define ‘valuable’ biodiversity and how do they measure this? How do they select indicators to measure biodiversity? How do they deal with uncertainty and lack of information? These are all questions of which the answers will help us develop a decision-support tool. During the game, participants will learn about marine biodiversity indicators, and how to apply and select them in a useful manner.

B-USEFUL’s serious game ‘iBLUE’ at ICES ASC 2023
B-USEFUL’s serious game ‘iBLUE’ at ICES ASC 2023

Practical information

  1. Target group is end-users (marine biodiversity managers/policy makers, or others involved in biodiversity monitoring/management decision-making)
  2. 6–12 participants per game
  3. Participants need to fill in a pre- and post-game questionnaire (1 hour total)
  4. Length of game: 2–3 hours
  5. Game is played in person (not online)
B-USEFUL’s serious game ‘iBLUE’ at ICES ASC 2023