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Combining Seascape Connectivity with Cumulative Impact Assessment in Support of Ecosystem‐Based Marine Spatial Planning

Journal of applied ecology


This study provides a methodology strengthening the cumulative impact assessment by including seascape connectivity. This extension to the CIA improves ecosystem-based MSP implementation. Based on the Swedish case study, the authors have identified two types of connectivity impacts: the source impact and the sink impact, which highlight upstream and downstream impacts. CIA approaches attract various critics due to their limitations, that the authors try to overcome here.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What is seascape connectivity?
  • How can seascape connectivity be included in a cumulative impact assessment (CIA)?
  • How to make a practical account of the remote effects of local environmental impacts?
  • How can considering seascape connectivity influence MSP scenarios?

Implementation Context:

This study was drafted in the context of implementing a cumulative impact assessment in the MSP process in Sweden.

Aspects / Objectives:

The aim of this study is to provide insights on the integration of seascape connectivity with cumulative impact assessments to support ecosystem-based marine spatial planning.


The study is based on the development of Maritime Spatial Planning in Sweden. It uses the Symphony CIA to calculate the combined impact of all human pressures on blue mussels which were selected to illustrate how to implement connectivity to CIA.

Main Outputs / Results:

The authors highlight the importance of considering connectivity when mapping cumulative impact assessments in Maritime Spatial Planning.


Although the practice is related to Sweden, the methodology used to include connectivity in cumulative impact assessments can be transferable to other MSP processes. 

Responsible Entity:

Department of Marine Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Laboratory, University of Gothenburg, Strömstad, Sweden.

Funding Source:

The Swedish Research Council Formas, Grant/Award Number: 2017-01949.

Contact person:

Per R. Jonsson - Email: (per[dot]jonsson[at]marine[dot]gu[dot]se)