Linking User-Perception Diversity on Ecosystems Services to the Inception of Coastal Governance Regime Transformation
In this paper we explore the challenges for transforming a wide and fragmented coastal governance system toward an ecosystem-based regime by translating shared values of nature into radically novel territorial development policies at highly disputed seascapes. We report an official coastal management institutional experiment in South Brazil, where direct ecosystem users (fishers, miners, mariculture, tourism and leisure, and aquatic transport agents and researchers) perception and classification of ecosystem services (ES) was assessed during 19 collaborative sectoral workshops held with 178 participants from six coastal cities surrounding Babitonga Bay estuarine and coastal ecosystems (Santa Catarina state, South Brazil). Participants collectively enlisted the benefits, rights and resources (or services) they obtain from these ecosystems, rendering a total of 285 citations coded to conventional ES scientific typologies (127 ES grouped in 5 types and 31 subtypes). We explore patterns in ES classificatory profiles, highlighting ecosystem user’s salient identities and exploring how they shape political actions in relation to the implementation of an ecosystem-based management regime. Food (provisioning service), tourism/leisure, employment, work and income (cultural services) as well as transportation (e.g. vessels, ports and navigation) (cultural/people’s services) are perceived by all user groups, and hence consist the core set of perceived shared values amongst direct ecosystem users to inform future transformation narratives. Differences in perception of values amongst user groups combined with high levels of power asymmetry and fragmentation in decision-making, are steering the analyzed system toward an unsustainable pathway. The governance regime has been largely favoring subsets of services and unfair distribution of benefits, disregarding a more diverse array of real economic interests, and potential ecological knowledge contributions. Our integrative and deliberative ES valuation approach advances understanding of critical features of the scoping phase of ES assessment initiatives in coastal zones. We provide empirically grounded and theoretically informed suggestions for the promotion of local knowledge integration through combination of methods that supports transformational research agendas. This paper establishes new groundwork to fulfilling alternative visions for the regional social-ecological system transformation to a more socially and ecologically coherent and equitable development trajectory.