The utility of environmental indicators in meeting regulatory needs was addressed at an international symposium held in November 2007. This paper summarizes the attributes and range of uses of indicators and highlights key points from theme sessions and a workshop on unifying concepts. The symposium attracted regulators and scientists, who supported the need to promote dialogue during the construction of indicator-based management frameworks and at key stages towards operational use. Scientists expressed willingness to engage with the wider societal context for indicator applications, which is essential to the development of ecosystem-based management. For the latter to be effective, more effort is needed to combine indicators with thresholds to guide management actions and, in the process, to assess the full range of consequences of non-compliance. There are clear benefits to periodic interdisciplinary reviews of progress in this area, and a follow-up event with a regulatory emphasis is suggested.
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