Linkage Framework


The ODEMM linkage framework builds on the DPSIR approach (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) (EEA 1998) which systematically organises information to assess which management responses might help to reduce impacts on the state of the environment. The ODEMM approach moves beyond DPSIR so that the full aspirations of Ecosystem-based Management can be fulfilled and the linkages work has been specifically designed to be relevant to Europe’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The Linkage Framework can help with decision support and visualisation of the system and provides the structure within which management options can be explored.

Links are assessed through impact chains which link sector activities, pressures, ecological components and ecosystem services (Figure 1). These are further linked to the policy objectives of the MSFD (GES Descriptors).


Figure 1 An illustration of the full linkage framework showing only the linkages between a subset of elements of the ecosystem



The output is a complete list of all relevant components of the ecosystem for the policy in question, the sectors, pressures and ecosystem services and the causal links between them, to give a fully connected ecosystem. This will be a complex array of impact chains, for example Figure 2 shows all potential sector-pressure-ecological component combinations for European seas. Other tools, such as the ODEMM Pressure Assessment can then be used to weight the links between the individual elements and thus help to determine priorities for management.


Figure 2 The full set of linkages between sectors, pressures and ecological components noted to be a possible interaction in at least one of Europe’s regional seas


Using the Linkage Framework

The ODEMM Linkage Framework and specifically, the underlying tables (link to matrices and guidance document below), can be used to identify those management options that minimise the impact of human activities on ecological components, whilst juxtaposing these against the demand for ecosystem services and the benefits arising from them. This will allow a thorough appraisal of any management measures proposed to help achieve high-level objectives such as those of the MSFD for GES. The Linkage Framework has been developed to be applied at regional scales in Europe and includes 18 sectors (98 activities), 24 pressure types (mechanisms of impact), 11 ecological components, 11 GES Descriptors and 21 ecosystem services. The framework could be adapted by experts for different spatial scales, including local or national, by identifying which sectors are present, which pressures are generated by these and which ecological components are impacted.

Start the Prezi below, clicking the arrows, to see the steps for using the Linkage Framework. Use your mouse to pan around and zoom in further for details.

The linkage matrices that are available give all possible interactions for European regional seas, but for any specific application, the first step is to identify which interactions are actually relevant to the system being analysed. For example, not all sectors listed may be relevant in any area assessed, and not all ecological components may be found there (e.g. no deep sea habitat in some areas). Once the linkages that are relevant to a region being assessed are selected, it is then possible to use the underlying matrices to provide the structure for a number of analyses (see examples in Knights et al. (2013) and also applications under the Pressure Assessment Resources page here).

Skills needed: The tool should be used by scientists with an ecological background, regional experts and managers. Using the existing framework does not require a high level of expertise. However, expert knowledge is required to include new links for understanding the pathways between sectors, pressures, the ecological components, ecosystem services and MSFD descriptors or other policy objectives.

Further Information: The Linkage Framework guidance document and accompanying linkage tables are available here ODEMM Linkage

Also described in Chapter 3 of ODEMM's final deliverable (Robinson et al. (2014) - ODEMM Report.pdf)

Developers: Lydia White, Rebecca Koss, Antony Knights, Annukka Eriksson and Leonie Robinson with contributions from the whole ODEMM Team

Tool contact: Leonie Robinson (


Additional References:

EEA. 1998. Guidelines for Data Collection and Processing - EU State of the Environment Report. Annex 3.

Knights A.M., Koss R.S. and Robinson L.A. 2013. Identifying common pressure pathways from a complex network of human activities to support ecosystem-based management. Ecological Applications 23(4), 755-765