Multinational conservation initiatives that prioritize investment across a region invariably navigate trade-offs among multiple objectives. It seems logical to focus where several objectives can be achieved efficiently, but such multi-objective hotspots may be ecologically inappropriate, or politically inequitable. Here we devise a framework to facilitate a regionally cohesive set of marine-protected areas driven by national preferences and supported by quantitative conservation prioritization analyses, and illustrate it using the Coral Triangle Initiative. We identify areas important for achieving six objectives to address ecosystem representation, threatened fauna, connectivity and climate change. We expose trade-offs between areas that contribute substantially to several objectives and those meeting one or two objectives extremely well. Hence there are two strategies to guide countries choosing to implement regional goals nationally: multi-objective hotspots and complementary sets of single-objective priorities. This novel framework is applicable to any multilateral or global initiative seeking to apply quantitative information in decision making.
Much of the detailed, incremental knowledge being generated by current scientific research on ocean acidification (OA) does not directly address the needs of decision makers, who are asking broad questions such as: Where will OA harm marine resources next? When will this happen? Who will be affected? And how much will it cost? In this review, we use a series of mainly US-based case studies to explore the needs of local to international-scale groups that are making decisions to address OA concerns. Decisions concerning OA have been made most naturally and easily when information needs were clearly defined and closely aligned with science outputs and initiatives. For decisions requiring more complex information, the process slows dramatically. Decision making about OA is greatly aided (1) when a mixture of specialists participates, including scientists, resource users and managers, and policy and law makers; (2) when goals can be clearly agreed upon at the beginning of the process; (3) when mixed groups of specialists plan and create translational documents explaining the likely outcomes of policy decisions on ecosystems and natural resources; (4) when regional work on OA fits into an existing set of priorities concerning climate or water quality; and (5) when decision making can be reviewed and enhanced.
The expansion of offshore renewable energy production, such as wind, wave and tidal energy, is likely to lead to conflict between different users of the sea. Two types of spatial decision support tools were developed to support stakeholder workshops. A value mapping tool combines regional attributes with local knowledge. A negotiation support tool uses these value maps to support stakeholders in finding acceptable locations for tidal energy devices. Interactive value mapping proved useful to address deficiencies in data and to create credibility for these maps. The negotiation tool helped stakeholders in balancing objectives of the various stakeholders.
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.