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Social Scientists Prepare Locals for a Mapping Project

An Environmental Social Scientist at the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science traveled with NOAA colleagues to the US Virgin Islands the week of Feb 27th – March 2nd to lay the groundwork for a mapping study of human uses in the St Thomas East End Reserves (STEER). This spring, the project team will hold workshops on St Thomas using a participatory GIS mapping method that involves local users of the area, stakeholders, and resource managers in the creation of digital maps that document the human uses of the STEER. Recreational, commercial, extractive and non-extractive uses of relevance for current marine management issues will be mapped.

Outputs of the workshops will include maps, GIS data layers, and a report. The project will fill a critical information gap in STEER management by providing managers with new information about the patterns of human use in the marine area. The maps will contribute to our understanding of the interaction between humans and environment, important for addressing issues such as pollution, coastal development, and resource management. Maps can also highlight marine areas highly valued by society. This is the first effort to use the Marine Protected Areas Center’s methodology to conduct participatory mapping workshops of human uses in the Caribbean.

The STEER Coastal Use Mapping Project is a partnership of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and the STEER Advisory Committee.

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