Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are defined as the non-material benefits that arise from human-ecosystem relationships. Such benefits contribute to quality of life and positive sentiment towards protected areas but are difficult to quantify, especially at large spatial scales. Building on recent studies, we assess CES in Brazil's largest marine protected area (MPA) using user-contributed georeferenced photographs from a popular image- and video-hosting website. In total, we assessed 1,984 photographs taken by 207 users between 2010 and 2016. The most represented CES categories were landscape appreciation and social recreation, clearly reflecting the obvious attractions of this tropical beach location. Artistic/cultural expressions and appreciation, and nature appreciation where also highly represented, though no photographs depicting educational engagements or scientific research were identified. Engagements with CES had clear spatial and temporal patterns relating to user behaviour and reflecting the biophysical and infrastructural characteristics of different sites within this MPA. The broad spatial coverage and high spatio-temporal resolution of the data makes this approach ideal for identifying CES hotspots/coldspots and, despite limitations, holds great potential to monitor the impact of management interventions on CES provision. Our study highlights how the analysis of high volumes of digital photographs extends the methodological tool-box available to researchers and provides a powerful new means to quantify and map CES at broad spatial scales.
Ecosystem Services and Uses
The ecosystem services paradigm is a widely recognised concept in ecology and environmental management, but one that is not uniformly incorporated into environmental law. This article argues that the integration of this paradigm into law can assist with protection of critical environmental resources, using mangrove ecosystems as an example. This article commences with a defence of the ecosystem services paradigm, followed by a discussion of the ecosystem services provided by mangroves. It argues that a comprehensive analysis of existing laws is a necessary first step towards legal reform, and to this end, it proposes a rubric for assessment of laws and legal frameworks. This rubric is applied to laws in Queensland, Australia, as a case study. It concludes by identifying major deficiencies in the recognition of mangrove ecosystem services in existing laws, and calling for reform in this area.
Climate change and associated sea-level rise alongside the potential for alterations in the magnitude and frequency of extreme storm events, rapidly rising coastal populations, and a legacy of coastal land reclamation are forcing the need for sustainable coastal protection on shallow, wetland-dominated coasts. In this context, practitioners, and academics in the field of coastal flood and erosion risk reduction have been highlighting the flood protection value of natural coastal features for some time. Examples of the implementation of nature-based coastal flood and erosion risk reduction schemes, however, are few and far between and can certainly not (yet) be considered mainstream. One key problem around the implementation of these types of approaches has arguably been the relative lack of perceived scientific certainty around the efficiency with which natural landforms, such as coastal wetlands, reduce wave action on landward lying structures and the persistence of such landforms in an uncertain future. This makes nature-inclusive approaches less attractive to more traditional engineering-only approaches that rely solely on one “hard” structure with a well-defined impact on waves and a specified design life. Using the example of wave dissipation over coastal wetland surfaces, this paper provides a way forward for an easily applicable scientifically informed assessment of the minimum difference any given wetland makes to wave heights at landward locations. Such a “minimum function” approach could be rolled out to other ecosystem services provided by natural features and thus allow decision makers and coastal planners to consider nature-inclusive approaches to coastal management with greater confidence.
The main objective of this work is to promote Ecosystem Based Management (EBM), using a complex Atlantic region, to demonstrate how the InVEST model tool and associated methods can be applied to calculate benthic habitats cumulative risk and to create a vulnerability index of the potential of these habitats to deliver ecosystem services (ES). The study area, in the Western-Atlantic coast of Portugal, includes the Nazaré Canyon (>3,000 m depth within the study region), Óbidos Lagoon (transitional waters), São Martinho do Porto bay (marine inlet), and Berlengas Archipelago (UNESCO world biosphere reserve). The ES delivered by this complex coastal region supports the main regional/local socio-economic activities (e.g., fisheries and tourism activities). The approach combined the InVEST habitat risk assessment tool with the identified ES to create a proxy for the habitats’ vulnerability to deliver ES. Within the region 28 marine benthic habitats were identified and combined with 12 classes of ES (Common International Classification of ES), and two prospective scenarios were analyzed (a potential socio-economic scenario for 2025 and a climate change scenario for the end of the century). The results show that the applied vulnerability approach enables the combination of information from different sources, including local knowledge, and the translation of the generated information into 2D spatial explicit maps that can support strategic management options, namely in the context of maritime spatial planning and “Blue Growth.” The interpretation of the habitat vulnerability approach requires the consideration of data spatial resolution, its quality, and the impact of associated pressures. However, despite the limitations and assumptions (e.g., all ES classes are equally important), models such as this have opened new avenues contributing to improve EBM, by combining spatial explicit GIS tools with supply and demand of marine ES, human activities, and their related positive and negative impacts.
Increasing emissions of CO2 and the resultant ocean acidification (OA) will have large implications for the marine ecosystems sustained by habitat-forming species and their related ecosystem services (ES), with potentially significant impacts on human well-being. Here, we provide an assessment of the direct and indirect impacts of OA on ES. The changes in the functioning of coralligenous reefs and Posidonia oceanica meadows promoted by OA were investigated by i) synthesizing current knowledge into conceptual models. The models were then used to, ii) assessing the impacts of exposure of the selected taxa at the acidification level associated with two CO2 emission scenarios and iii) using the conceptual model outputs to project the cascading impacts from individuals to functions to ES.
The results highlight that the combination of the direct and indirect effects of acidification will alter many functions of both coralligenous and P.oceanica systems, triggering habitat modifications and the loss of highly valuable ES.
While the exact timing of the expected changes will depend on the severity of the emission scenarios, significant and hardly reversible changes can be expected as quickly as a few decades under the business-as-usual scenario, and many ecosystem services are at risk even under much more conservative scenarios.
Ecosystem services conceptualises the multiple interactions between ecosystems and the people and communities benefitting from their direct or indirect use, aiming to provide stakeholders and scientists with a common language. While some users appear to have adopted this language and terminology, there are concerns that the complexities associated with the concept make it inaccessible and, rather than providing stakeholders with a tool to explain complex relationships, the language and terminology itself may disengage. Through surveying UK-based coastal and marine stakeholders (n = 158), this study examines stakeholders’ perceptions of the concept of ecosystem services and its role and usefulness within the marine and coastal science-policy-practice interface. Overall, stakeholders provided favourable opinions, with findings similar across respondents with the exception of industry; which used it less, was less confident with it and believed it to be less important. The results provide an evidenced argument for the benefits of the ecosystem services approach, including communication, supporting management and linking environment to humans. The analysis also details the required advancements to ensure effective future use, including improved terminology, pluralistic valuation and shared learning. Finally, the paper highlights challenges and benefits relating to the term, creating links to ongoing discussions about effective scientific communication for marine and coastal management.
Incorporating the perception and attitudes of key stakeholders into conservation management can contribute to biodiversity conservation and has the potential to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. To this end, there is scope to enhance conservation outcomes by improving the capture and analysis of stakeholders perceptions and translating these into the management decision making process. Here, an ecosystem services approach (i.e. the benefits people obtain from nature) is used to assess the societal benefits derived from a specialized and rare behavior exhibited by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus) that cooperatively forage with artisanal fishers in Laguna, southern Brazil. From interviews, we identified ecosystem services based on the perception of artisanal fishers who take part in this interaction. The perceived benefits of cooperative fishing with dolphins, identified from these interviews, were grouped into eight ecosystem services assigned into cultural (n = 7) and provisioning (n = 1) related services. The results showed that experienced fishers were more likely to identify multiple and diverse ecosystem services, while fishers exposed to tourists tended to focus on tourism and recreation leisure as benefits from fishing with dolphins. Our findings show that the human component is a key element in this system and support the proposal that future conservation decisions and management plans of Laguna's bottlenose dolphins should involve artisanal fishers to be more effective. Our findings indicate that an ecosystem services approach could help decision-makers to better integrate social, economic and cultural aspects of human-wildlife interactions into conservation and management strategies for wildlife in a wider context.
One of the current major scientific challenges to sustain social-ecological systems is to improve our understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. Here, we analyse the bundles of ecosystem services supplied by three coastal ecosystems (coastal lagoons, coral reefs and sandy beaches) along a gradient of eutrophication. Based on a state-and-transition model, we analyses the dynamic responses of ecological communities to environmental change and management actions. Although few exceptions are highlighted, increasing eutrophication in the three ecosystem types leads to a degradation of the ecosystem service bundles, particularly for nutrient and pathogen regulation/sequestration, or for the support of recreational and leisure activities. Despite few obstacles to their full use, state-and-transition models can be very powerful frameworks to integrate multiple functions and services delivered by ecosystems while accounting for their temporal dynamics.
Mangroves are an important ecosystem-based protection against cyclonic storm surge. As the surge moves through the mangrove forest, the tree roots, trunks, and leaves obstruct the flow of water. Damage to adjacent coastal lands is attenuated mainly by reducing (i) surge height, which determines the area and depth of inundation and (ii) water flow velocity. But the extent of mangrove protection depends on the density of tree plantings and the diameter of trunks and roots, along with an array of other forest characteristics (e.g., floor shape, bathymetry, spectral features of waves, and tidal stage at which waves enter the forest). Making efficient use of mangroves’ protective capacity has been hindered by a lack of location-specific information. This study helps to fill that gap by estimating reduction in storm surge height and water flow velocity from mangroves at selected sites in cyclone-prone, coastal Bangladesh. A hydrodynamic model for the Bay of Bengal, based on the MIKE21FM system, was run multiple times to simulate the surge of cyclone Sidr (2007) at the Barisal coast. Estimates of surge height and water flow velocity were recorded first without mangroves and then with mangroves of various forest widths and planting densities, including specific information on local topography, bathymetry, and Manning’s coefficients estimated from species’ root and trunk systems. The results show a significant reduction in water flow velocity (29–92%) and a modest reduction in surge height (4–16.5 cm). These findings suggest that healthy mangroves can contribute to significant savings in rehabilitation and maintenance costs by protecting embankments from breaching, toe-erosion, and other damage.
The ecosystem services (ES) concept has gained traction amongst stakeholders involved in environmental regulation, yet little is known about the extent to which the ES concept has been translated into public policy. Here, we present a new online database of policy documents related to ES: GlobaLDES (https://tinyurl.com/GlobalDES). The database was created in 2016 and compiled through a crowdsourced process. Learners involved in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) were invited to submit documents that explicitly refer to ES. We included in our analysis documents related to laws, regulations, ordonnances, tax incentives, certification, and strategic planning. By early 2018 the database contained 136 relevant entries from 46 countries. Most examples (60%) were in a language other than English. More than 50% of entries addressed multiple ES or the link between biodiversity and ES. There was also a positive temporal trend towards inclusion of multiple ecosystem services. The GlobaLDES database represents the first known snapshot of the mainstreaming of the ES concept at a global scale. Our analysis suggests an accelerating adoption of the ES concept into policy. As the number of entries improves, GlobaLDES will serve as a useful benchmarking tool for monitoring the diffusion of the ES concept into policy-making.