Managers and practitioners have increasingly applied participative multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) in marine multi-objective management situations. Despite methodological advances and practical experiences, there is no systematic review that clarifies the current scope and challenges of participatory MCDA in fisheries management, aquaculture and marine conservation. Using the ISI Web of Science database, 95 peer-reviewed publications were found that report MCDA applications in marine management (fisheries or aquaculture) and marine conservation. Of these, 31 studies explicitly and systematically incorporate stakeholders’ engagement at one or more stages of the MCDA process. Results show how participative MCDA has been applied in a wide range of marine multi-objective problems. Interestingly, 76% of studies included participation and 24% consultation processes. Most MCDA studies in marine environments were developed in Europe and Asia. Results highlight that despite successful experiences in participative MCDA, participation has been generally fragmented. Participatory processes have focused mainly at particular stages, such as the establishment of objectives and criteria, and elicitation of weights of importance. Conversely, other important stages of MCDA, such as identifying alternatives, estimating consequences or prioritizing management alternatives, exhibited low levels of participation and/or consultation. In addition, results suggest that uncertainties around multiple values judgments are seldom treated in marine MCDA studies. Greater rigor in promoting an active participation in the complete decision process and fully considering the uncertainties around people's value judgments are important research gaps, which if addressed, could substantially improve participative MCDA applications aimed at achieving sustainable management and conservation.
Caribbean economies depend on coastal ecosystem services, including tourism, fisheries, and shoreline protection. However, coastal ecosystems continue to degrade due to human pressures. Many pressures arise from decisions that fail to take full range of ecosystem values and benefits into account.
Economic valuation can contribute to better-informed decision making about coastal resource use and development. More than 100 studies in the Caribbean contain monetary values of coastal ecosystem goods and services. However, only a minority of these studies have had an observable influence on policy, management, or investment decisions. Through a series of interviews, we identified 17 valuation studies that have directly influenced decision making. Due to the difficulty of tracking influence, our review was not exhaustive.
These 17 “success stories” highlight the potential for economic valuation to improve decision making. Building on literature on the challenges of integrating science into policy, we used these 17 cases to identify enabling conditions for informing decision making. These conditions include a clear policy question, strategic choice of study area, strong stakeholder engagement, effective communications, access to decision makers, and transparency in reporting results.
Our findings suggest that valuation practitioners can and should do more to ensure that valuation studies inform decision making.
The central challenge of the 21st century is to develop economic, social, and governance systems capable of ending poverty and achieving sustainable levels of population and consumption while securing the life-support systems underpinning current and future human well-being. Essential to meeting this challenge is the incorporation of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides into decision-making. We explore progress and crucial gaps at this frontier, reflecting upon the 10 y since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. We focus on three key dimensions of progress and ongoing challenges: raising awareness of the interdependence of ecosystems and human well-being, advancing the fundamental interdisciplinary science of ecosystem services, and implementing this science in decisions to restore natural capital and use it sustainably. Awareness of human dependence on nature is at an all-time high, the science of ecosystem services is rapidly advancing, and talk of natural capital is now common from governments to corporate boardrooms. However, successful implementation is still in early stages. We explore why ecosystem service information has yet to fundamentally change decision-making and suggest a path forward that emphasizes: (i) developing solid evidence linking decisions to impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services, and then to human well-being; (ii) working closely with leaders in government, business, and civil society to develop the knowledge, tools, and practices necessary to integrate natural capital and ecosystem services into everyday decision-making; and (iii) reforming institutions to change policy and practices to better align private short-term goals with societal long-term goals.
The present study investigates the suitability of the Kish Island coastal areas for the establishment of Corals Artificial Reefs (CAR) using the new Spatial Multi-Criteria Decision-Making (SMCDM) tool. This new method based on the combination of existing Multi-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) with Expert Systems (ES), Weighted Linear Combination (WLC) and field study. In this research suitable artificial reefs areas were determined through 3 stages of analysis: (i) evaluation (identification, scoping and weighting) criteria and sub criteria using literature review, Delphi method and Pair-Wise comparison (PWC), respectively; (ii) construction of the GIS model based on MCDM approach; and (iii) verification of the GIS model outputs and prioritization of the selected areas using field study and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), respectively. As a result, seven alternatives (7.2% of the study area) were identified as the most preferred areas for CAR sitting. Ranking of alternatives by AHP indicated that zones 7 and 6 obtained the highest priority and zones 5, 2, 3, 4 and 1 had the lowest priority for CAR establishing in Kish Island, respectively. In this study the WLC and AHP was used for identification and prioritization of the most preferred areas, respectively. There was a difference between the results of the WLC and AHP. We propose the WLC should be used for the identification and AHP should be used for prioritization of alternatives.
Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) is a systematic process commonly employed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to assess primarily benefits stemming from storm damage reduction and recreation enhancement by beach protection. The USACE goal is to quantify federal money disbursement to local communities to counter the consequences of coastal erosion. The EU has recommended the use of CBA for shoreline management (both at regional and local scales), looking not only at the financial aspects of project assessment, but also at non-market benefits (ecosystem services of the beaches) and environmental costs, assessed on a broad time horizon in a given sediment cell. In this paper, several ecosystem services provided by beach protection are considered and some of them monetised to assess the local net benefits of a nourishment project carried out along the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy. The paper shows that free riding emerges by the public supply of coastal protection, and that it could be possibly partially removed charging the cost of beach maintenance to the local users. In addition, supply of coastal protection may generate negative environmental externalities. However, costs of environmental damage of the beach nourishment are not easy to be internalised. This suggests alternative market mechanisms (charges or insurance premiums) to reduce the development pressure on coastal areas subject to high rates of erosion or to explore the adoption of subsides such as payments for ecosystem services (PES) at seascape scales.
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.
Numerous assessments have quantified, mapped, and valued the services provided by ecosystems that are important for human wellbeing. However, much of the literature does not clarify how the information gathered in such assessments could be used to inform decisions that will impact ecosystem services. We propose that the process of making management decisions for ecosystem services comprises five core steps: identification of the problem and its social–ecological context; specification of objectives and associated performance measures; defining alternative management actions and evaluating the consequences of these actions; assessment of trade-offs and prioritization of alternative management actions; and making management decisions. We synthesize the degree to which the peer-reviewed ecosystem services literature has captured these steps. For the ecosystem service paradigm to gain traction in science and policy arenas, future ecosystem service assessments should have clearly articulated objectives, seek to evaluate the consequences of alternative management actions, and facilitate closer engagement between scientists and stakeholders.
In this paper, a general framework for the development of Decision Support Systems (DSSs) for the management of coastal lagoons is presented. The proposed DSS structure integrates the information provided by several models accounting for different characteristics of lagoon ecosystems, including biogeochemical, hydrodynamic, ecological and socio-economic aspects. Outputs and indicators provided by the models are used to accomplish the decision task by the application of multicriteria analysis. Model uncertainty and robustness with respect to uncontrollable factors are addressed. Application of the proposed DSS structure to five lagoons located in the Mediterranean area is discussed, with special focus on the management of clam farming in the Sacca di Goro lagoon (Italy). Thanks to its flexibility, the proposed DSS structure is also applicable in decision problems arising in different fields.
In ecosystem-based management (EBM), the use of knowledge is considered an important means to reach sound decisions. However, EBM approaches typically entail complex decision-making processes, involving multiple actors and policy levels. Hence, it is questionable whether and how knowledge can be used as a means to reach sound decisions. This paper explores and evaluates the knowledge governance employed by decision-makers to successfully implement EBM in a complex setting. Conclusions are drawn from a case study based on 30 qualitative interviews, document analysis, and observational participation in Denmark's second largest river restoration project, the Houting project. Our findings suggest that disjointed knowledge governance, knowledge bases acknowledging different values and interests, and the use of experiments were crucial to the success, but at the same time partly restricted the quality, of decision-making in the project. Several suggestions are made on how to compensate for the shortcomings identified.