Coastal ecosystems support the livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide. However, the marine and terrestrial ecosystem services that coastal ecosystems provide are particularly vulnerable to global environmental change, as are the coastal communities who directly depend on them. To navigate these changes and ensure the wellbeing of coastal communities, policy-makers must know which coastal ecosystem services matter to whom, and why. Yet, in developing coastal settings, capturing people’s perceptions of the importance of ecosystem services is challenging for several reasons. Firstly, coastal ecosystem services encompass both terrestrial and marine services across multiple categories (i.e. provisioning, supporting, and cultural) that are difficult to value together. Secondly, widely used monetary valuation techniques are often inappropriate because of culturally specific attributions of value, and the intangible nature of key cultural ecosystem services. Thirdly, people within communities may hold different ecosystem services values. In this paper, we examine how people ascribe and explain the importance of a range of marine and terrestrial ecosystem services in three coastal communities in Papua New Guinea. We use a mixed-methods approach that combines a non-monetary ranking and rating assessment of multiple ecosystem services, with a socio-economic survey (N = 139) and qualitative explanations of why ecosystem services matter. We find that people uniformly ascribe the most importance to marine and terrestrial provisioning services that directly support their livelihoods and material wellbeing. However, within communities, gender, wealth, and years of formal schooling do shape some differences in how people rate ecosystem services. In addition, although cultural ecosystem services were often rated lower, people emphasized that they ranked provisioning services highly, in part, because of their contribution to cultural values like bequest. People also expressed concern about extractive ecosystem services, like fuelwood, that were perceived to be destructive, and were rated low. We contend that comprehensive ecosystem services assessments that include narratives can capture the broad importance of a range of ecosystem services, alongside relational values and normative judgements. This exploratory approach is a useful step towards understanding the complexities of ecosystem services in developing coastal settings.
Ecosystem Services and Uses
Recent years have witnessed growing interest in applying ecosystem service (ES) frameworks to promote holistic decision-making and develop sustainable aquaculture. The goal of this review was to analyze the status quo of research on aquaculture ES and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities to better align ES with holistic decision-making. This study conducted a systematic review of the academic literature and analyzed the coverage of aquaculture ES across 94 publications. The research field has evolved substantially in the last ten years, reaching a multidisciplinary audience around the world. While research coverage included all major production environments (coastal marine, brackishwater, and freshwater) and cultured species groups (finfish, bivalves, crustaceans, and seaweeds), emphasis is currently limited towards certain types of aquaculture and study areas (namely, brackishwater shrimp farming). This review found a flexible but inconsistent application of ES concepts and methods to support multiple decision-contexts including policy, development, and conservation. This paper proposes a research agenda to address research gaps, adopt more holistic ES-driven research, and apply consistent and comparable ES measures through an aquaculture lens. Ultimately, this should be supported by a shift in thinking that frames aquaculture as ‘aqua-ecosystems’, recognizing aquaculture as fundamentally embedded within linked social and ecological systems.
The offshore and deep-sea marine environment provides many ecosystem services (i.e., benefits to humans), for example: climate regulation, exploitable resources, processes that enable life on Earth, and waste removal. Unfortunately, the remote nature of this environment makes it difficult to estimate the values of these services. One service in particular, waste removal, was examined in the context of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Nearly 5 million barrels of oil were released into the offshore Gulf of Mexico, and 14 billion dollars were spent removing about 25% of the oil spilled. Using values for oil spill cleanup efforts, which included capping the wellhead and collecting oil, surface combustion, and surface skimming, it was calculated that waste removal, i.e., natural removal of spilled oil, saved BP over $35 billion. This large amount demonstrates the costs of offshore disasters, the importance of the offshore environment to humans, as well as the large monetary values associated with ecosystem services provided.
The capacity of ecosystems to supply ecosystem services is decreasing. Sustaining this supply requires an understanding of the links between the impacts of pressures introduced by human activities and how this can lead to changes in the supply of services. Here, we apply a novel approach, assessing ‘risk to ecosystem service supply’ (RESS), across a range of aquatic ecosystems in seven case studies. We link aggregate impact risk from human activities on ecosystem components, with a relative score of their potential to supply services. The greatest RESS is found where an ecosystem component with a high potential to supply services is subject to high impact risk. In this context, we explore variability in RESS across 99 types of aquatic ecosystem component from 11 realms, ranging from oceanic to wetlands. We explore some causes of variability in the RESS observed, including assessment area, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population density. We found that Lakes, Rivers, Inlets and Coastal realms had some of the highest RESS, though this was highly dependent on location. We found a positive relationship between impact risk and service supply potential, indicating the ecosystem components we rely on most for services, are also those most at risk. However, variability in this relationship indicates that protecting the supply of ecosystem services alone will not protect all parts of the ecosystem at high risk. Broad socio-economic factors explained some of the variability found in RESS. For example, RESS was positively associated with GDP and artificial and agricultural land use in most realms, highlighting the need to achieve balance between increasing GDP and sustaining ecosystem health and human wellbeing more broadly. This approach can be used for sustainable management of ecosystem service use, to highlight the ecosystem components most critical to supplying services, and those most at risk.
Matrix approaches are useful for linking ecosystem services to habitats that underpin their delivery. Matrix applications in marine ecosystem services research have been primarily qualitative, focusing on 'habitat presence' without including other attributes that effect service potential. We developed an evidence-based matrix approach of Ecosystem Service Potential (ESP) for New Zealand benthic marine habitats, and used two marine reserves to demonstrate that integrating information on the spatial extent and quality of habitats improved ESP evaluation. The two case studies identified substantial spatio-temporal variability in ESP: within one reserve, specific ESP showed an approximately 1.5-fold increase in the 29 years following protection. A comparison of two reserves found that the spatial extent of habitats contributing to the medicinal resources and waste-water treatment were 5 and 53 times greater respectively in one relative to the other. Integrating habitat area and quality with the ESP matrix improves on previous marine matrix-based approaches, providing a better indication of service potential. The matrix approach helps to communicate the non-market value of supporting and regulating services and can be used by resource managers to identify and track the potential for benefits derived from benthic marine habitats within existing, or new, marine protected areas.
The drastic land cover change and its impacts in the Yellow Sea have long been significant issues in terms of coastal vulnerabilities, but holistic data analysis is limited. The present study first reports 40 years long geographical changes of the Yellow Sea coasts including all three neighboring countries of China, North Korea, and South Korea. We delineated tidal flats by analysis of Landsat series satellite imageries (662 scenes) between 1981 and 2016. A total area of the Yellow Sea tidal flats has been considerably reducing for the past 36 years, from ∼10,500 km2 (1980s) to ∼6700 km2(2010s), say ∼1% annual loss. A majority loss of tidal flats was mainly due to the grand reclamations that conducted in almost entire coast of the Yellow Sea, particularly concentrated in the 1990s-2000s. Coastal reclaimed area during the past four decades reached ∼9700 km2, including ongoing and planned projects, which corresponds to over half the area of precedent natural tidal flats of the Yellow Sea. The potential carbon stocks in the eight representative regions with large scale reclamation indicated significant loss in carbon sink capacity in the South Korea's coast (∼99%), while evidenced a lesser loss from the China's coast (∼31%). It was noteworthy that the progradation of tidal flats after the reclamation in China's coast significantly reduced the loss of carbon sequestration. According to the ecosystem services valuation for the Yellow Sea, a total loss was estimated as ∼8 billion USD yr−1 with relatively high proportional loss (up to 25%) of climate regulating services (viz., carbon sequestration). Overall, huge losses in ecosystem services being provided by the Yellow Sea natural tidal flats need immediate action to prevent or at least alleviate accelerating ecological deteriorations. Finally, future conservative policy direction on coastal wetlands management has been proposed towards enhancement of marine ecosystem services.
Global initiatives have been increasingly focusing on mainstreaming the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services into decision-making at all levels. Due to the accelerated rate at which biodiversity is declining and its consequences for the functioning of ecosystems and subsequently, the services they provide, there is need to develop comprehensive assessments of the services and the benefits nature delivers to society. Based on expert evaluation, we identified relevant flow linkages in the supply-side of the socio-ecological system, i.e. from biodiversity to ecosystem services supply for eight case studies across European aquatic ecosystems covering freshwater, transitional, coastal and marine waters realms. Biological mediated services were considered, as well as those reliant on purely physical aspects of the ecosystem, i.e. abiotic outputs, since both have implications for spatial planning, management and decision-making. Due to the multidimensional nature of ecosystems and their biodiversity, our approach used ecosystem components such as habitats and biota as proxies for biodiversity and as the focal point for linkage identification. Statistical analysis revealed the importance of considering mobile biota in the spatial assessment of habitats. Contrary to literature evidences so far, our results showed significantly different and complementary ecosystem services supply patterns across the continuum of aquatic realms. The implemented score of ecosystem services supply has a high potential for integrated aquatic ecosystem service supply assessments in the context of ecosystem-based management.
As the world's population continues to grow, the way in which ocean industries interact with ecosystems will be key to supporting the longevity of food and social securities. Aquaculture is crucial to the future supply of seafood, but challenges associated with negative impacts could impede increased production, especially production that is efficient and safe for the environment. Using the typology established by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Initiative, we describe how marine aquaculture could be influential in supporting ecosystem services beyond solely the production of goods, through provisioning services, regulating services, habitat or supporting services, and cultural services. The provision of these services will vary, depending on functional traits of culture species, biotic and abiotic characteristics of the surrounding environment, farm design, and operational standards. Increasing recognition, understanding, and accounting of ecosystem service provision by mariculture through innovative policies, financing, and certification schemes may incentivize active delivery of benefits and may enable effects at a greater scale
Coral reef ecosystems provide many important services to society. Their importance is not only proved by their beauty but also because they provide food and livelihood for millions of people in communities around the world, especially in developing countries. This paper estimates the economic value of coral ecosystems and potential impacts of climate change and fishing activities on the loss of coral reefs in Nha Trang Bay, Vietnam. Economic valuation and bioeconomic approaches are applied to combine socioeconomic data and projections of coral reef cover based on the quantitative scenarios of sea surface temperature and fishing activity to articulate the potential economic consequences of future change in the coral reef. The loss in economic value of coral under climate change and fishing effort scenarios is estimated which ranges from US$27.78 to US$31.72 million annually. This result is useful for policy makers to draw conclusions for climate policy, biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, and priorities for further work.
Positive (synergistic) and negative (trade-off) relationships among ecosystem services are influenced by drivers of change, such as policy interventions and environmental variability, and the mechanisms that link these drivers to ecosystem service outcomes. Failure to account for these drivers and mechanisms can result in poorly informed management decisions and reduced ecosystem service provision. Here, we review the literature to determine the extent to which drivers and mechanisms are considered in assessments of ecosystem service relationships. We show that only 19% of assessments explicitly identify the drivers and mechanisms that lead to ecosystem service relationships. While the proportion of assessments considering drivers has increased over time, most of these studies only implicitly consider the drivers of ecosystem service relationships. We recommend more assessments explicitly identify drivers of trade-offs and synergies, which can be achieved through a greater uptake of causal inference and process-based models, to ensure effective management of ecosystem services.