Seagrass meadows support key ecosystem services, via provision of food directly for herbivores, and indirectly to their predators. The importance of herbivores in seagrass meadows has been well-documented, but the links between food webs and ecosystem services in seagrass meadows have not previously been made explicit. Herbivores interact with ecosystem services – including carbon sequestration, cultural values, and coastal protection. Interactions can be positive or negative and depend on a range of factors including the herbivore identity and the grazing type and intensity. There can be unintended consequences from management actions based on a poor understanding of trade-offs that occur with complex seagrass-herbivore interactions. Tropical seagrass meadows support a diversity of grazers spanning the meso-, macro-, and megaherbivore scales. We present a conceptual model to describe how multiple ecosystem services are influenced by herbivore pressure in tropical seagrass meadows. Our model suggests that a balanced ecosystem, incorporating both seagrass and herbivore diversity, is likely to sustain the broadest range of ecosystem services. Our framework suggests the pathway to achieve desired ecosystem services outcomes requires knowledge on four key areas: (1) how size classes of herbivores interact to structure seagrass; (2) desired community and management values; (3) seagrass responses to top–down and bottom–up controls; (4) the pathway from intermediate to final ecosystem services and human benefits. We suggest research should be directed to these areas. Herbivory is a major structuring influence in tropical seagrass systems and needs to be considered for effective management of these critical habitats and their services.
Ecosystem Services and Uses
Ecosystem services have become an important component of planning discussions at local, state, national and international levels. These services have also more recently figured into discussions of community resilience to hazard events. For the majority of ecosystem services, some contribution of human capital inputs, which we term Enabling Economic Inputs (EEIs) in this paper, are necessary to convert the raw ecosystem service flow into an ecosystem service benefit obtained by people. This paper evaluates a subset of EEIs related to coastal ecosystem services associated with (1) fishing and shellfishing; (2) recreational boating; and (3) recreational beach use. After developing a conceptual approach for EEIs, this research develops a methodology for spatially evaluating EEIs. Using a hot-spot analysis of establishments based on the North American Industrial Classification System codes, nodes in the supply chain for ecosystem services within the Long Island region are identified and analyzed. The paper concludes with an evaluation of how information on the supply chain of ecosystem services may assist in resiliency planning in coastal communities. Further research is needed to fully evaluate the conveyance system that translocates ecosystem services from supply areas to demand areas, and this research is an initial step in that direction.
Land–sea ecological connectivity refers to the interaction (convenience or hindrance) of certain physical, chemical and biological processes between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Research on land–sea ecological connectivity can provide important scientific bases for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems in terrestrial and coastal areas. On the basis of a literature summary of ecological connectivity, this paper focuses on the following: (1) summarizing basic concepts, representative phenomena on multiple spatiotemporal scales, and analysis methods of land–sea ecological connectivity; (2) discussion of the applications of land–sea ecological connectivity; (3) discussion of the relationship between human activities and land–sea ecological connectivity; (4) presentation of perspectives and recommendations on ecological restoration, protection, and biodiversity research, with emphasis on the principle of land–sea ecological connectivity. On the whole, we believe such connectivity in a region varies with changes in multiple physical and artificial factors, such as climate, land cover, biotic community and human activities. Human activities such as land use, engineering construction, urbanization and industrialization have continuously increased and cause irreversible disturbance and destruction of land–sea ecological connectivity, thereby threatening biodiversity and ecosystem services at various spatiotemporal scales. Hence, achievements of theoretical research and practical experience in ecological connectivity should be fully applied in coastal areas to maintain and restore land–sea ecological connectivity and remedy various problems that arise from the blockage and damage of ecosystem services.
The concept of ecosystem services is widely used in the scientific literature and increasingly also in policy and practice. Nevertheless, operationalising the concept, i.e. putting it into practice, is still a challenge. We describe the approach of the EU-project OpenNESS (Operationalisation of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital), which was created in response to this challenge to critically evaluate the concept when applied to real world problems at different scales and in different policy sectors. General requirements for operationalization, the relevance of conceptual frameworks and lessons learnt from 27 case study applications are synthesized in a set of guiding principles. We also briefly describe some integrative tools as developed in OpenNESS which support the implementation of the principles. The guiding principles are grouped under three major headlines: “Defining the problem and opening up the problem space”, “Considering ethical issues” and “Assessing alternative methods, tools and actions”. Real world problems are often “wicked” problems, which at first are seldom clear-cut and well-defined, but often rather complex and subject to differing interpretations and interests. We take account of that complexity and emphasise that there is not one simple and straightforward way to approach real world problems involving ecosystem services. The principles and tools presented are meant to provide some guidance for tackling this complexity by means of a transdisciplinary methodology that facilitates the operationalisation of the ecosystem services concept.
Marine climate regulation, the absorption and deposition of atmospheric carbon in the marine environment, is considered a valuable ecosystem service. Past valuations of this ecosystem service neglected to account for its temporal context, either by equating it with primary productivity, an underlying ecosystem process, or disregarded the temporal aspects related to its supply, thus leading to inaccurate valuations. This study presents a simplified spatiotemporal economic valuation methodology of the climate regulation ecosystem service, intended to address these shortcomings. The valuation was applied to the Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by accounting for permanent and temporary carbon sequestration and the use of Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) values. Based on different carbon prices, the estimated value of climate regulation within the Israeli EEZ ranges between 265.1 and 1270.9 € km−2 year−1, which is significantly lower compared with past methodologies applied in other areas.
Ecosystem services (ES) are direct and indirect benefits of ecosystems that are not generally offered by markets and from which society obtains goods and services. ES are grouped according to four ecosystemic functions: regulation, provisioning, habitat and cultural. Our study aimed at identifying ES provided by beaches and coastal dunes in the Baja California Peninsula. ES were identified in a literature search in the international and local scientific bibliography databases. We used key words like: ES in Baja California, ES in beaches and ES in coastal dunes. We analyzed 350 selected papers. Explicit and implicit mentions to ES or to their elements were extracted from the reviewed documents; the assigned value represents the degree of importance of each ES: 0 (unimportant), 1 (low importance), 2 (medium importance) and 3 (high importance). The ES cultural function was the best documented, being mentioned in 40 publications. The habitat function was the most reported for the Pacific Ocean coast mainly refuge for flora and fauna. The functions of regulation of air quality and climate are equally analyzed in ten publications. The ES of erosion regulation, pollination, and water flow are only documented in the Gulf of California coastline. We concluded it is highly relevant to know the ES provided by beaches and coastal dunes in order to design and implement adequate management practices that conserve the ecosystem in order for it to continue providing ES to humans.
The concept of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is globally of increasing interest. However, little is known about the views and expectations of professionals and practitioners expected to enable or implement this concept. Since these individuals design, select, shape and deliver environmental management, their views and expectations are critical to understanding how PES may play out in practice. Using the first survey on this topic, in the UK this research discusses the implications for future research and environmental management.
Responses indicate a range of views about PES and its potential effects. Most expect to see greater use of PES in future; and are cautiously positive about the environmental, social and economic consequences of doing so. Many hope PES may overcome existing challenges facing environmental management, subject to conditions or changes. The research also revealed tensions related to broader challenges in environmental governance – e.g. calls for standardisation may conflict with requests for adaptability. Meanwhile, other expectations – e.g. improved engagement with groups currently uninterested in the environment – indicate priorities that may be better addressed with other instruments. Varied views are likely in most countries and must be assessed to better understand the prospects and potential of PES.
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.
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.