By Steve Fletcher, Linwood Pendleton, Wendy Dodds, Tara Hooper, François Morisseau, Karine Dedieu and Remi Mongruel
The VALMER project (www.valmer.eu) convened a workshop at the International Marine Conservation Congress (Glasgow, August 2014) to share experiences about the application of ecosystem service assessments in marine conservation. We specifically asked participants about barriers to the use of ecosystem services assessment for marine conservation. In addition to the ‘usual’ answers about “poor data availability, incomplete knowledge to link ecosystem functions and ecosystem services, and difficulties in the application of monetary valuation methods,” participants repeatedly cited “the manner” in which ecosystem services assessments are conducted as a potentially significant barrier to their eventual use, or lack thereof. The engagement process, we were told, influences how the ESA results of the assessment are perceived and subsequently used. Furthermore, there was a strong sense from participants that how stakeholders, decision-makers and any other interested parties are involved in an ecosystem services assessment has a direct effect on how the results of the assessment will be treated and used. But why?