A model to integrate ecosystem services into spatial planning: Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon study

Ocean & Coastal Management

Abstract: 

The need to bring ecosystem services into strategic decisions and policy design for the governance of social-ecological systems is found to be mutually advantageous within the scientific and political community, as it may lead to better environmental decision-making and promote sustainable development. However, its actual integration into spatial planning and decision-making processes have not been fully realised and face substantial challenges, particularly regarding the marine environment. This paper uses the Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon (Vouga estuary, Portugal) and the conceptual framework of Estuary Programmes as a starting point for proposing a model for the gradual incorporation of ecosystem services into policy and decision-making processes. Estuaries are complex social-ecological systems that lay at the interface between marine and terrestrial ecosystems, which are managed through Estuary Programmes – a special programme of strategic nature that aim to protect the natural resources of estuary and estuary banks. Despite having a legal framework since 2009, Estuary Programmes have never been developed, posing an opportunity for improving traditional practices and adapting them according to new methodologies and approaches. The proposed model, with three essential stages, provides a way forward for strengthening the process of environmental planning and management towards sustainability, territorial and social cohesion, responding to current societal challenges and contributing to human well-being. Principles such as comprehensive, adaptive, inclusive, and integrative were established as key for guiding ecosystem services integration into the spatial planning process.

Country: 
Year: 
September 2020
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Sectors: 
Nature protection
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Study
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Stocktake
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
No
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How should ecosystem services be integrated into spatial planning?

Implementation Context:

This paper was written in a context where the development of Estuary Programmes is inexistant despite having a legal framework since 2009, but it could serve as an opportunity for improving traditional practices and adapting them according to new methodologies and approaches.

Aspects / Objectives:

The aim of this study is to propose a model for the gradual incorporation of ecosystem services into policy and decision-making processes.

Method:

The study uses the Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon (Vouga estuary, Portugal) and the conceptual framework of Estuary Programmes as a starting point for proposing a model for the gradual incorporation of ecosystem services into policy and decision-making processes.

Main Outputs / Results:

The proposed model, with three essential stages, provides a way forward for strengthening the process of environmental planning and management towards sustainability, territorial and social cohesion, responding to current societal challenges and contributing to human well-being. Principles such as comprehensive, adaptive, inclusive, and integrative were established as key for guiding ecosystem services integration into the spatial planning process.

Transferability:

The conceptual framework applied in this study represents a starting point for proposing a model for the gradual incorporation of ecosystem services into policy and decision-making processes.

Responsible Entity:

Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), Department of Environment and Planning, University of Aveiro, 3810-193, Aveiro, Portugal

Contact person:

Lisa P. Sousa

lisa@ua.pt

Fátima L. Alves

malves@ua.pt

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