Ecosystem based modeling and indication of ecological integrity in the German North Sea - Case study offshore wind parks
Human exploitation and use of marine and coastal areas are apparent and growing in many regions of the world. For instance, fishery, shipping, military, raw material exploitation, nature protection and the rapidly expanding offshore wind power technology are competing for limited resources and space. The development and implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) strategies could help to solve these problems. Therefore, suitable spatial assessment, modeling, planning and management tools are urgently needed. These tools have to deal with data that include complex information on different spatial and temporal scales. A systematic approach based on the development of future scenarios which are assessed by combining different simulation models, GIS methods and an integrating set of ecological integrity indicators, was applied in a case study in the German North Sea. Here, the installation of huge offshore wind parks within the near future is planned. The aim was to model environmental effects of altered sea-use patterns on marine biota. Indicators of ecological integrity were used to assess altering conditions and possible ecosystem shifts ranging from systems' degradations to the development of highly productive and diverse artificial reef systems. The results showed that some ecosystem processes and properties and related indicators are sensitive to changes generated by offshore wind park installations while others did not react as hypothesized
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