With over 1 billion people currently relying on the services provided by marine ecosystems – e.g. food, fibre and coastal protection – governments, scientists and international bodies are searching for innovative research to support decision-makers in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Valuing past and present ecosystem services allows investigation into how different scenarios impact the SDGs, such as economic growth, sustainability, poverty and equity among stakeholders. This paper investigates the past and current value of the lobster fishery located in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. It then uses InVEST to highlight future changes under different scenarios. While we found a significant decline in fishery value over the next ten years under all three scenarios, the exclusion of large-scale fisheries from the marine protected area seems to yield the most positive results in regard to South Africa’s SDG commitments. This scenario has the potential to generate approximately 50% more revenue, while also producing the highest available protein to local communities, highest quantity of spawners and highest economic distribution to small-scale fisheries. It is clear through this research that valuing ecosystem services can enable a future of healthy economies, people and environments; the highly sought-after triple-bottom line.
Ecosystem Services and Uses
Spatial planning has to deal with trade-offs between various stakeholders’ wishes and needs as part of planning and management of landscapes, natural resources and/or biodiversity. To make ecosystem services (ES) trade-off research more relevant for spatial planning, we propose an analytical framework, which puts stakeholders, their land-use/management choices, their impact on ES and responses at the centre. Based on 24 cases from around the world, we used this framing to analyse the appearance and diversity of real-world ES trade-offs. They cover a wide range of trade-offs related to ecosystem use, including: land-use change, management regimes, technical versus nature-based solutions, natural resource use, and management of species. The ES trade-offs studied featured a complexity that was far greater than what is often described in the ES literature. Influential users and context setters are at the core of the trade-off decision-making, but most of the impact is felt by non-influential users. Provisioning and cultural ES were the most targeted in the studied trade-offs, but regulating ES were the most impacted. Stakeholders’ characteristics, such as influence, impact faced, and concerns can partially explain their position and response in relation to trade-offs. Based on the research findings, we formulate recommendations for spatial planning.
Antarctica's status as a unparalleled place of international scientific collaboration was entrenched in the Antarctic Treaty 1959, and its designation as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” formally referenced in the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (PEPAT) 1991 (PEPAT 1991, Article 2). The continent's importance for maintenance of the global ecosphere has more recently been confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Anisimov et al., 2007). However, the expanded scale and scope of commercial tourism in Antarctica over the last quarter century raises issues about whether the laissez-faire approach to tourism management that has been taken under the auspices of Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) governance is sufficient to protect the Antarctic environment and its “wilderness” values from the negative impacts of tourism (PEPAT, Article 3(1)). This is an subject that has occupied a number of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCPs), who form the decision-making group within the ATS, and resulted in a recent question by The Netherlands to fellow ATCPs as to whether “a system of obligatory or voluntary payments by individual tourists or tourist organizations (as a payment for ‘ecosystem services’)?” should be established within the ATS (The Netherlands, ATCM XI, 2012).
This paper considers the Dutch question about payment for ecosystem services in Antarctica as a potential tourism regulatory tool. It also examines the legal and related political issues that a proposal for introduction of ecosystem services would generate in an area of the earth which, de facto, is treated as an international commons, but is also the site of continuing contestation and challenge over abeyant claims to sovereignty by seven states within the ATCP group. Issues canvassed in this context include: the different political-philosophical approaches to tourism and the environment evinced by the ATCPs; the limited number of states signatory to the Treaty and the increase in non-state actor activity in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters, and concomitant difficulties of monitoring and compliance in a geographically expansive and remote area of the earth; and the potential of ecosystem services in Antarctica to help realise some of the United Nations’ post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
With rapid urbanization in the coastal zone and increasing habitat losses, it is imperative to understand how urban development affects coastal biodiversity and ecosystem service provision. Furthermore, it is important to understand how habitat fragments can best be incorporated into broader land use planning and coastal management, in order to maximize the environmental benefits they provide. In this study, we characterized the trade-offs between (a) urban development and individual mangrove environmental indicators (habitat quality and ecosystem services), and (b) between different environmental indicators in the tropical nation of Singapore. A range of biological, biophysical, and cultural indicators, including carbon, charcoal production, support for offshore fisheries, recreation, and habitat quality for a threatened species were quantified using field-based, remote sensing, and expert survey methods. The shape of the trade-off Pareto frontiers was analyzed to assess the sensitivity of environmental indicators for development. When traded off individually with urban development, four out of five environmental indicators were insensitive to development, meaning that relatively minor degradation of the indicator occurred while development was below a certain threshold, although indicator loss accelerated once this threshold was reached. Most of the pairwise relationships between the five environmental indicators were synergistic; only carbon storage and charcoal production, and charcoal production and recreational accessibility showed trade-offs. Trade-off analysis and land use optimization using Pareto frontiers could be a useful decision-support tool for understanding how changes in land use and coastal management will impact the ability of ecosystems to provide environmental benefits.
Structural and functional changes in a sandy beach ecosystem in the southwestern Atlantic (Barra del Chuy, Uruguay) were assessed by contrasting four Ecopath trophic models and performing temporal dynamic simulations using Ecosim. Each model (1982, 1989, 1996 and 2012) represents a historical period of a clam fishery in which regulatory structure, management tools and resource status varied substantially. The results showed that this land-ocean interface experienced significant changes reflected at the population and ecosystem levels, owing to a combined effect of fishing and climate variability. Most system biomass (excluding phytoplankton and detritus) consisted of benthic invertebrates. Phytoplankton increased significantly over time, whereas the biomass of benthic macrofaunal components varied among the periods due to bottom-up processes, mass mortalities of the harvested clams and fishing intensity. Major fishing impacts on the targeted clam and mass mortalities occurred concurrently with low phytoplankton biomass, and clam recovery occurred in the absence of harvesting and increasing primary production. Ecosystem-level attributes (e.g., Total System Throughput, Ascendency) showed considerable temporal fluctuations, which were primarily related to changes in system productivity associated with a climatic shift from a cold phase to a warm phase and increasing onshore winds. An analysis of robustness and order showed an ecosystem state lacking the flexibility to adapt to new perturbations. Dynamic simulations showed the prominent bottom-up role of environmental variability on ecosystem function and structure. Temporal dynamics is conducted by changes in primary production forced mainly by temperature patterns. The concurrent role of climate variations and fishing explained the long-term dynamics of this ecosystem, suggesting that sandy beaches are fragile social-ecological systems whose services are increasingly threatened by long-lasting stressors.
Protected Areas are a key component of nature conservation. They can play an important role in counterbalancing the impacts of ecosystem degradation. For an optimal protection of a Protected Area it is essential to account for the variables underlying the major Ecosystem Services an area delivers, and the threats upon them. Here we show that the perception of these important variables differs markedly between scientists and managers of Protected Areas in mountains and transitional waters. Scientists emphasise variables of abiotic and biotic nature, whereas managers highlight socio-economic, cultural and anthropogenic variables. This indicates fundamental differences in perception. To be able to better protect an area it would be advisable to bring the perception of scientists and managers closer together. Intensified and harmonised communication across disciplinary and professional boundaries will be needed to implement and improve Ecosystem Service oriented management strategies in current and future Protected Areas.
The Ecosystem Services (ES) concept highlights the varied contributions the environment provides to humans and there are a wide range of methods/tools available to assess ES. However, in real-world decision contexts a single tool is rarely sufficient and methods must be combined to meet practitioner needs. Here, results from the OpenNESS project are presented to illustrate the methods selected to meet the needs of 24 real-world case studies and better understand why and how methods are combined to meet practical needs. Results showed that within the cases methods were combined to: i) address a range of ES; ii) assess both supply and demand of ES; iii) assess a range of value types; iv) reach different stakeholder groups v) cover weaknesses in other methods used and vi) to meet specific decision context needs. Methods were linked in a variety of ways: i) as input–output chains of methods; ii) through learning; iii) through method development and iv) through comparison/triangulation of results. The paper synthesises these case study-based experiences to provide insight to others working in practical contexts as to where, and in what contexts, different methods can be combined and how this can add value to case study analyses.
Ecosystem-based management involves the integration of ecosystem services and their human beneficiaries into decision making. This can occur at multiple scales; addressing global issues such as climate change down to local problems such as flood protection and maintaining water quality. At the local scale it can be challenging to achieve a consistent and sustainable outcome across multiple communities, particularly when they differ in resource availability and management priorities. A key requirement for consistent decision support at the community level is to identify common community objectives, as these can form the basis for readily transferable indices of ecosystem benefit and human well-being. We used a keyword-based approach to look for common terminology in community fundamental objectives as a basis for transferable indices of human well-being and then compared those commonalities to community demographics, location, and type. Analysis centered on strategic planning documents readily available from coastal communities in the conterminous United States. We examined strategic planning documents based on eight domains of human well-being, and found that Living Standards and Safety and Security were the most commonly addressed domains, and Health and Cultural Fulfillment were the least. In comparing communities, regional differences were observed in only one well-being domain, Safety and Security, while community type yielded significant differences in five of the eight domains examined. Community type differences followed an urban to rural trend with urban communities focusing on Education and Living Standards, and more rural communities focused on Social Cohesion and Leisure Time. Across all eight domains multivariate analysis suggested communities were distributed along two largely orthogonal gradients; one between Living Standards and Leisure Time and or Connection to Nature, and a second between Safety and Security and Social Priorities (Education/Health/Culture/Social Cohesion). Overall these findings demonstrate the use of automated keyword analysis for obtaining information from community strategic planning documents. Moreover, the results indicate measures and perceptions of well-being at the local scale differ by community type. This information could be used in management of ecosystem services and development of indices of community sustainability that are applicable to multiple communities with similar demographics, regional location, and type.
Mangrove forests provide many services, some of which are used mostly or exclusively by local people, often the relatively poor and marginalised. Here, such ‘local ecosystem services’ are defined as those benefitting people living zero to tens of kilometres from a forest. The provision of fuel, timber, fodder, crustacean, fin-fish and shoreline protection services are reviewed, and their relationships with global patterns in biodiversity and poverty are examined. Higher floral and faunal diversity in the Indo-West-Pacific, compared with the Atlantic-East-Pacific, correlate with a greater range of species exploited for fuel, timber, crustaceans and coastal protection. Whilst poverty is a strong predictor for reliance on some local services, such as fuel wood, it is not related to others, such as fin-fish; hence, local people may be ‘liberated’ from reliance on some services by increased income but use others to generate that wealth. The vulnerability of these services to climate change depends on local geomorphological, biological and social factors. Forests with good supplies of sediment and fresh water, and fauna with relatively simple life cycles, will probably be more resilient. Greater wealth (or investment) may permit people to shift from capture to aquaculture fisheries and to show flexibility in the face of changing or reduced service provision.
The ecosystem services afforded by coastal wetlands are threatened by climate change and other anthropogenic stressors. The Kennedy Space Center and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in east central Florida offer a representative site for investigating how changes to vegetation distribution interact with management to impact coastal protection. Here, salt marshes are converting to mangroves, and mosquito impoundment structures are being modified. The resulting changes to vegetation composition and topography influence coastal protection services in wetlands. We used a model-based assessment of wave attenuation and erosion to compare vegetation (mangrove, salt marsh) and impoundment state (intact, graded). Our findings suggest that the habitat needed to attenuate 90% of wave height is significantly larger for salt marshes than mangroves. Erosion prevention was significantly higher (470%) in scenarios with mangroves than in salt marshes. Intact berms attenuated waves over shorter distances, but did not significantly reduce erosion. Differences in coastal protection were driven more by vegetation than by impoundment state. Overall, our findings reveal that mangroves provide more coastal protection services, and therefore more coastal protection value, than salt marshes in east central Florida. Other coastal regions undergoing similar habitat conversion may also benefit from increased coastal protection in the future.