State of the Scotian Shelf
The reporting framework used in the State of the Scotian Shelf Report is the driving forces-pressures-state-impacts-response (DPSIR) framework. The DPSIR framework provides an overview of the relation between the environment and humans. According to this framework, social and economic developments and natural conditions (driving forces) exert pressure on the environment and, as a consequence, the state of the environment changes. This leads to impacts on human health, ecosystems and materials, which may elicit a societal or government response that feeds back on all the other elements. The DPSIR framework is useful in describing the origins and consequences of environmental problems.
Figure 1. The DPSIR (Driving Forces, Pressures, State, Impact and Response) diagram can be found in each theme paper, tailored to that theme.
An indicator summary is provided at the end of each theme paper. The summary identifies indicators relevant to the theme paper and the policy issue it represents. An indicator is a parameter that provides information about an environmental issue with a significance that extends beyond the parameter itself. Indicators have been used for many years by economists to explain economic trends, a typical example being gross domestic product (GDP). More recently there have been efforts aimed at developing indicators that are suitable for measuring sustainable development. The main goal of establishing indicators is to measure, monitor and report on progress towards sustainability. A set of indicators should be broad enough to represent the overall environment, yet be few enough to present an understandable picture of environmental quality.
In the summary table (see Figure 2), the type of indicator is identified (driving force, pressure, state, impact or response) and an assessment of the indicator is provided as “good,” “fair,” “poor” or “unknown.” The general trend of the indicator, in terms of what it means for the state of the environment, is also shown. Categories are positive, negative, unclear or neutral, or no assessment due to lack of data. Positive means that the general trend should result in improvements in the state of the environment. This means that the assessment in the future is likely to improve, such as from poor to fair or from fair to good.
Negative means that the general trend is towards a further decline in the state of the environment, such as from fair to poor. Unclear or neutral do not mean the same thing; however, they are given the same symbol for the purpose of the table. Unclear means that it is not clear if the trend will result in a decline or improvements in the state of the environment. Neutral means that there is not a positive or negative trend.
Figure 2. Examples of summary indicators, drawn from several theme papers.
It is important to note that the trend is not necessarily the direction of the indicator; however, it could coincide with the direction of the indicator. For example, for the indicator, “Number of regulated chemicals and substances,” an increase in this indicator would likely be considered positive for the state of the environment, thus “+” would be put in the “Trend” column. This also coincides with the direction of the indicator. On the other hand, for the indicator “Number of invasive species,” an increase in this indicator would be a negative trend for the state of the environment, yet the direction of the indicator would be positive. The “Trend” column for this indicator would have “-” (negative) to reflect implications for the state of the environment (see Figure 2).