Pressure Assessment


The ODEMM Pressure Assessment is a tool to assess and rank the threat associated with any particular sector/pressure combination on any ecological component. This tool follows on from the Linkage Framework outputs by weighting the interactions between human activities and ecological components using pressures as the links between them and helping to determine which sectors and activities to prioritise for management. The weightings allow for comparison of the relative threat of different sectors and pressures to the range of components in any ecosystem, and for comparison between ecosystems.

Using expert judgement, the extent of overlap between human activities (and their pressures) and ecological components (e.g. habitats and functional groups) is assessed; the greater the overlap (spatial extent and frequency of occurrence), severity (degree of impact) and persistence of a pressure, the greater its threat. In addition, there can be differences in recovery potential between different ecological components as described in terms of their inherent resilience. Each sector activity-pressure-ecological component combination is then ranked based on the 5 criteria shown below.

Start the Prezi below, clicking the arrows,to see more about the criteria for using the Pressure Assessment. It is recommended to make the Prezi full screen and to use your mouse to pan around and zoom in.


The output is an excel database of sector-pressure combinations with a qualitative categorical score assigned for each of the five criteria shown above for any interactions with individual ecological components. The database can then be analysed for patterns in threats in any area that has been assessed (for example, what is the predominance of high frequency severe impact interactions affecting ecological components with low resilience in a particular sea area?) It is also possible to then take the data and analyse this further using a risk assessment type approach (see the Ecological Risk Assessment tab under Resources).

Using the Pressure Assessment Tool

There are a number of ways in which the ODEMM Pressure Assessment could currently be used. Firstly, the methodlogy described (see Further Information below) could be applied to any regional sea area where an appropriate selection of experts are available (see Skills needed below) to produce a new pressure assessment for that area and time. Secondly, the application that has already been completed for Europe's Regional Seas (see Further Information) could be used to explore particular threat or management issues where the application is suitable and with the guidance of the ODEMM team. Thirdly, the existing application for Europe's regional seas could be adapted and re-assessed to contemplate different scenarios such as a different spatial scale or time zone.

Skills needed

1. Undertaking a new assessment based on the methodology described

This requires a range of experts who are familiar with the ecological components (their distribution and status) and human activities (their distribution and overlap of activities with ecological components) that are present in the sea area being assessed, as well as how human activities interact with ecological components through their pressures. Expert judgement requires multiple experts in each area of expertise to be involved and the assessment is most usefully completed with all experts together working in a working group/workshop environment. It would also be advisable to involve at least one of the ODEMM team to help with interpretation of the methodology at several stages in the application. The time taken to complete a full assessment across all ecosystem components (even at a very coarse resolution) should not be underestimated and it is essential that the expert teams have relevant experience and enough breadth in knowledge between them that they can confidently undertake all steps. Even where suitable time and expertise is assigned to the individual assessments, there is then a requirement for careful cross validation and checking, which again cannot be completed quickly and should involve consultations with the relevant ODEMM experts.

2. Utilising the assessment already completed for Europe's regional seas as is

The methodology has already been applied to the four European regional seas to assess threats as present in the period 2010-2012. The complete database can be accessed through discussion with the ODEMM team and where appropriate consultation is undertaken and there is a clear understanding of the suitability of the data to a particular application, results can be generated quickly.

3. Adapting the assessment already completed for Europe's regional seas

The complete assessment could be updated/adapted so that it is focused differently in terms of spatial scale and/or time scale of assessment, relatively quickly, if the appropriate experts from the ODEMM team are consulted.

Further Information 

The most up to date version (V2) of the ODEMM Pressure Assessment guidance document is available here Pressure Assessment Guide V2.pdf

The approach and some outputs are also described in Chapter 4 of ODEMM's final deliverable (Robinson et al. (2014) - ODEMM Report.pdf)

The database of outputs from the application already completed for Europe's regional seas can only be accessed currently through discussion with the ODEMM team (see contact information below)

Developers: Leonie Robinson, Lydia White, Fiona Culhane and Antony Knights with contributions from the wider ODEMM team

Tool contacts: Leonie Robinson ( or Antony Knights (


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