Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps

The Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) is a measure of coastal zone natural resources as depicted through the use of maps and atlases. ESI is used in oil spill evaluation, prevention, and clean up capabilities.

Background
In 1991 the governor of Florida established a legislative task force to evaluate spill prevention and cleanup capabilities. Several areas for improvement were identified, and one of the most significant shortcomings noted was the lack of current and accurate information on natural resources in the coastal zone. ESI is a measure of a coastal zone's natural and socio-economic resources as depicted through the use of maps, atlases, and tables. ESI's purpose is its use in oil spill evaluation, prevention, clean up, and contingency planning activities. To date, the focus for ESI has been on producing atlases depicting marine coastlines and

ESI Maps
There are currently five regional paper ESI atlases covering the entire marine coastline of Florida. Each one contains a lengthy introduction that explains the methods used to acquire, synthesize, and map all the ESI information as well as a detailed listing of agencies to contact in the event of a spill. The maps themselves consist of three main types of information:

  • Shoreline Classification-a relative sensitivity ranking, on a scale from 1 to 10, relating to relative exposure of wave and tidal energy, shoreline slope, substrate type, biological productivity, and overall shoreline sensitivity to spilled oil. An ESI ranking of 1 represents a shoreline least sensitive to oil, while an ESI ranking of 10, represents a shoreline most sensitive to oil. Each ESI ranking is represented by a different color on an ESI map, giving quick reference to the shoreline's ranking. This provides responders with an idea of which shorelines need to be protected first.
  • Biological Resources-oil-sensitive animals and habitats such as the American crocodile and coral reefs. Information on biological resources is very detailed including; seasonality, threatened/endangered status, activity, and relative concentration.
  • Human-Use Resources-specific areas, such as water intakes, sand beaches, and archaeological sites, which have added sensitivity and value because of their cultural significance or use by humans.

ESI Maps on the Web (PDF, 1.33 MB, Interactive)-All of Florida's ESI Atlases may now be viewed and downloaded from the web! These maps and atlases have recently been reorganized into a more user-friendly structure with clickable index maps for navigation to the desired map and biological tables. Now users can download a complete ESI map as a single document. Please be aware that these maps are PDF documents and may sometimes be large files. A high-speed Internet connection is recommended. You must have Adobe Reader to view and download these maps.

For more information on ESI Maps and ESI Mapping, please contact Richard Knudsen at FWRI. Phone: (727) 896-8626, Extension 3036. E-mail: Richard.Knudsen@MyFWC.com

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FWC Facts:
The organism that causes red tide in Florida, Karenia brevis, owes its name to a state researcher of harmful algal blooms, Dr. Karen Steidinger.

Learn More at AskFWC