The marine proof-of-concept database includes planning exercises that met the following four criteria:
1. Define explicit conservation objectives, but can include social and economic objectives;
2. Identify spatially explicit conservation areas (i.e. places where some form of spatially explicit management – from strict reservation to off-reserve management – is undertaken to contribute to defined objectives), sometimes associated with actions;
3. Identify marine conservation areas (including coastal ecosystems) and/or terrestrial or freshwater conservation areas that can have downstream benefits on marine ecosystems (i.e. explicit marine conservation objectives). For example, protect forest areas against erosion to maintain water quality in marine areas; thus, configuration of terrestrial conservation areas reflect marine considerations; and
4. Prioritized spatially using some form of optimization that accounted for complementarity between priority conservation areas and/or actions. This means that plans will necessarily use existing (e.g. C-Plan, Marxan, Zonation) or custom-made (e.g. linear programming, genetic algorithms) DSS.
The marine SCP prototype currently contains 114 database fields and includes information on goals and objectives, geographic scope and location, targeted features, methods and decision-support tools, planning units, threats to features, stakeholder participation, planning outputs, and approaches to incorporating ecological connectivity, climate change, and socioeconomic considerations.
The marine proof-of-concept database is the most comprehensive and systematic compilation of marine SCP studies to date, thus providing a unique opportunity for scientists to access and analyse further aspects of marine planning. It provides a full and consistent coverage of the primary literature on marine SCP (155 case studies), and constitutes an important step towards the development of a centralized repository of key information on planning exercises worldwide.