Opportunities and Strategies to Incorporate Ecosystem Services Knowledge and Decision Support Tools into Planning and Decision Making in Hawai‘i
Incorporating ecosystem services into management decisions is a promising means to link conservation and human well-being. Nonetheless, planning and management in Hawai‘i, a state with highly valued natural capital, has yet to broadly utilize an ecosystem service approach. We conducted a stakeholder assessment, based on semi-structured interviews, with terrestrial (n = 26) and marine (n = 27) natural resource managers across the State of Hawai‘i to understand the current use of ecosystem services (ES) knowledge and decision support tools and whether, how, and under what contexts, further development would potentially be useful. We found that ES knowledge and tools customized to Hawai‘i could be useful for communication and outreach, justifying management decisions, and spatial planning. Greater incorporation of this approach is clearly desired and has a strong potential to contribute to more sustainable decision making and planning in Hawai‘i and other oceanic island systems. However, the unique biophysical, socio-economic, and cultural context of Hawai‘i, and other island systems, will require substantial adaptation of existing ES tools. Based on our findings, we identified four key opportunities for the use of ES knowledge and tools in Hawai‘i: (1) linking native forest protection to watershed health; (2) supporting sustainable agriculture; (3) facilitating ridge-to-reef management; and (4) supporting statewide terrestrial and marine spatial planning. Given the interest expressed by natural resource managers, we envision broad adoption of ES knowledge and decision support tools if knowledge and tools are tailored to the Hawaiian context and coupled with adequate outreach and training.