B-USEFUL will contribute to achieve the policy goals set out by the EU Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 by developing user-oriented tools and solutions to conserve marine biodiversity

B-USEFUL’s ambition is to

  • set up interactive end-user forums ensuring the identification of end-user needs and co-development of project outcomes fit for decision-making within existing frameworks for marine governance and ecosystem-based advice.
  • maximize the uptake and harmonization of available European data infrastructure for monitoring and assessing marine biodiversity.
  • create a step change in our ability to assess and understand cumulative impacts and risks acting on marine biodiversity.
  • provide new model infrastructure and capacity to make projections of future biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • co-develop a user-oriented decision-support tool hosted within an existing infrastructure for science advice and ocean governance

B-USEFUL’s interactive end-user forum

Developing and implementing science for ecosystem-based advice require a synthesis of knowledge and needs of all parties operating in the regions of interest. To date, much effort has primarily involved scientists and regulators. B-USEFUL will go beyond this and create an interactive forum embracing a broader definition of ‘end-users’, as all parties involved in the process from generation of knowledge to decision-making and management (e. g., fishing, aquaculture, energy sectors, environmental NGOs and associations; Advisory Councils; scientific organizations; international agencies, and government bodies (international, national, local). The end-user forum will facilitate the direct involvement of users in the co- development, framing and application of knowledge on marine biodiversity.

B-USEFUL’s new model infrastructure

Despite recent advances in the field of biodiversity our ability to forecast future responses and changes in marine biodiversity and ecosystem services is severely limited. B-USEFUL aim to overcome this by developing a modelling framework capable of understanding the underlying mechanisms and assembly process shaping biodiversity based on organism traits and the emergent processes whereby these create and support ecosystem functions and services. The primary novelty of our approach is the way in which we combine a great wealth of observational data with a suite of statistical tools, including advanced joint species distribution models (jSDMs) and structural equation models (SEM), to illuminate the fundamental patterns and processes occurring in nature, and subsequently how we use this empirical knowledge to inform mechanistic trait- based food-web models.

B-USEFUL’s user-oriented decision-support tool for science advice and ocean governance

the user-friendly tool will allow end-users to map and visualize temporal trends and spatial patterns of a broad suite of biodiversity- and ecosystem services indicators, fitting end-user needs and existing policy goals and directives (e. g., MSFD). Moreover, it will allow for a formal visualization of the current status of indicators in relation to various management targets and baselines, as well as their risks and changes in space and time under different “what-if” scenarios of human impacts co-developed by end-users. Furthermore, it is our ambition that the tool will be designed in a transparent, iterative and dynamic manner so that it can routinely update and cross-validate outputs, as well as the underlying data processing, analysis and modelling providing such outputs, as new monitoring data and information become available (e. g., through regular monitoring campaigns). Importantly, it is the ambition of B-USEFUL that the tool will not only visualize areas with high risks or conservation status, but also allow end-users to assess spatial overlap and trade-offs with human activities, such as fisheries, aggregate extraction and offshore wind farms, based on information that is currently available within existing European data infrastructures (e. g., EMODnet).

Our Pathways to Impacts

B-USEFUL will employ three complementary pathways to generate and ensure a broad range of impacts towards fulfilling the ambitious vision of the EU Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy. These pathways are range from higher level impacts targeting policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services (Pathway 1: “Science to policy”), to tailored impacts on decision-making through direct involvement of end-users (Pathway 2: “Science for decision-making”), as well as lower level (but equally important) impacts serving to raise awareness and transfer of knowledge among scientists, managers and the general public on the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss (Pathway 3: “Science for Training”).

Infographic B-USEFUL activities pathway impact.svg Mobile infographic B-USEFUL activities pathway impact.svg

Conceptual figure illustrating the three primary pathways to impact of B-USEFUL aiming to target and improve: (i) international and regional policy development on biodiversity and ecosystem services (blue); decision-making within the context of EBM and MSP (red) serving to achieve policy goals (notably biodiversity protection within the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030), (iii) training and capacity building for scientists, practitioners and the general public at large (dark-green-blue) serving to increasing knowledge, awareness and understanding of the causes and impacts of biodiversity loss (linked also to climate change), as well as and the measures we can take to halt, mitigate or adapt to the consequences.