An Environmental Social Scientist at the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science traveled with NOAA colleagues to the US Virgin Islands the weekof Feb 27th – March 2ndto 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 GISmapping method that involves local users of the area, stakeholders, and resource managers in thecreation 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 bemapped.
Outputs of the workshops will include maps, GIS data layers, and a report. The projectwill fill a critical information gap in STEER management by providing managers with newinformation about the patterns of human use in the marine area. The maps will contribute to ourunderstanding of the interaction between humans and environment, important for addressingissues such as pollution, coastal development, and resource management. Maps can alsohighlight marine areas highly valued by society. This is the first effort to use the Marine Protected Areas Center’s methodology to conduct participatory mappingworkshops 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 ConservationProgram (CRCP), NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM),NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and the STEER AdvisoryCommittee.