CMECS Receives Federal Approval

One of the greatest remaining obstacles to effective ocean conservation has been the lack of a standard language for describing and comparing marine ecosystems. NatureServe and its partners have helped marine scientists take a big step forward in solving this fiendishly complicated problem.

Over the past decade, NatureServe has collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and more than a hundred scientists and coastal managers to develop and implement a new standard for marine ecosystem classification. Recently approved by the Federal Geographic Data Committee, the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) is the first-ever, comprehensive federal standard for classifying and describing coastal and marine ecosystems.

CMECS offers a straightforward framework and common terminology for characterizing natural and human-influenced ecosystems, from the upper tidal reaches of estuaries to the deepest portions of the ocean. The use of CMECS will improve our knowledge of marine ecosystems and will help us refine the classification over time.
To learn more, contact Kathy Goodin, deputy director for science. See the catalog of units at