08 November 2018
By Dr Caroline Hattam, Plymouth Marine Laboratory

People experience and interact with the marine environment in a multitude of different ways, for example, through the extraction of food and other resources or as part of their cultural heritage. One way that we can start assessing these interactions and their consequences for the marine environment is through the concept of ecosystem services, “the direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being” (TEEB 2010). This project aims to assess the potential for each Blue Communities case study site to provide ecosystem services and contrast this against the demand placed upon them by different user groups. In addition, it aims to value selected ecosystem services and explore the trade-offs between ecosystem services under different scenarios of usage and management (through the development of Bayesian Belief Networks). This will be coupled with training for Blue Communities partners and the sharing of outputs and lessons learnt among stakeholders across the case study sites.

MalaysiaActivities focusing on ecosystem service supply and demand are currently underway. Such ecosystem service assessments are typically data demanding, yet many of the case study sites in Blue Communities are relatively data poor. To overcome this challenge, we have selected an assessment method that can incorporate all forms of evidence, from local ecological knowledge to academic studies. The project team is currently focusing its efforts on identifying the evidence linking the habitats found in the case study sites to ecosystem services, to enable the potential for the different habitats to supply ecosystem services to be scored (together with our confidence in the underlying evidence). The next step will be to compare the ecosystem service supply scores with ecosystem service demand scores to create an ecosystem service budget. The long-term objective is to display this evidence spatially where possible to identify priority areas where demand exceeds supply and highlight areas that may require greater management.

This information is important for a number of other Blue Communities projects. In particular Project 8, which has merged with Project 3, as the two projects require a common baseline. It will also support the governance aspects of Projects 2 and 9, provide information on ecosystem usage relevant to Projects 6 and 12 and will support the development of marine policy and management options in Project 11.

Coupled with the other planned outputs for this project, the information generated will support stakeholders in the case study sites to develop marine plans and management activities. We also anticipate that the outputs will be useful outside the Blue Communities programme and can be used to support marine management in other parts of SE Asia, helping them to explicitly take marine ecosystem services into consideration.
Project 3: Impact of ecosystem services & values
Project lead: Dr Caroline Hattam (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), Co-lead: Dr Olivia Langmead (University of Plymouth)
3.png Project 8: Ecosystem service trade-offs 
Project lead: Dr Caroline Hattam (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), Dr Tara Hooper (Plymouth Marine Laboratory)

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