An eye-opening approach to developing and communicating integrated environmental assessments
Communication among managers, the public, and scientists is the key to successful ecosystem management; however, the varied perspectives and interests of these groups can make such communication difficult. One way to achieve effective communication is to develop a common knowledge base by combining syntheses of key scientific results with information-rich visual elements. Within a management landscape, integrated environmental assessments provide a useful framework for evaluating resources and directing management efforts. The integrated assessment process involves (1) initial investigation, (2) development of a conceptual framework, (3) data navigation, (4) environmental report cards, and (5) science communication. Each step requires the synthesis and visualization of information on the status and trends connected with multiple natural resources. We provide a case study, using examples from selected National Park Service sites in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Visual elements (conceptual diagrams, maps, graphs, tables, and photographs) were used to facilitate comparative assessments and to provide a more visual, or “eye-opening”, approach to effective environmental decision making.