Evaluating ecosystem management capabilities at the local level in Florida: identifying policy gaps using geographic information systems. Academic Article uri icon


  • Because ecosystem approaches to management adhere to ecological systems rather than human-defined boundaries, collaboration across jurisdiction, agencies, and land ownership is often necessary to achieve effective management of transboundary resources. Local natural resource and land use planners increasingly recognize that while ecosystem management requires looking beyond specific jurisdictions and focusing on broad spatial scales, the approach will partly be implemented at the local level with the coordination of local policies across larger landscapes. This article evaluates the collective capabilities of local jurisdictions to manage large transboundary ecological systems in Florida. Specifically, it combines plan evaluation with geographic information systems (GIS) techniques to map, measure, and analyze the existing mosaic of management across selected ecosystems in the southern portion of the State. Visual and statistical results indicate significant gaps in the management framework of southern Florida that, if filled, could achieve a greater level of consistency and more complete coverage of ecosystem management policies. Based on the spatial distribution of 58 ecosystem management indicators, notable gaps persist in the southwest coast, southeast coast, and central Everglades ecosystems, particularly for wildlife corridors and collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions. We also test for spatial autocorrelation of ecosystem planning scores and find that local jurisdictions with strong ecosystem management capabilities tend to cluster within specific ecosystems. Based on the findings, we make recommendations on how and where local plans can be strengthened to more effectively attain the objectives of ecosystem approaches to management.

published proceedings

  • Environ Manage

author list (cited authors)

  • Brody, S. D., Carrasco, V., & Highfield, W.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Brody, Samuel D||Carrasco, Virginia||Highfield, Wes

publication date

  • December 2003