A structured indicator pool to operationalize expert-based ecosystem service assessments for marine spatial planning

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Abstract: 

There is growing evidence that the ecosystem service (ES) concept can provide valuable input to marine spatial planning (MSP), by highlighting which ecosystem goods and services can be produced from a planning area. ES link the underlying ecosystem processes and functions to the benefits humans can receive from ecosystems (the ecosystem cascade). In this study, we argue that the ecosystem cascade can be used to structure the stock-taking and future scenario analysis in MSP. 

However, indicators, which are needed for measuring ES, have often been applied in various ways to the different steps of the cascade. Here, we apply a consistent approach to sorting indicators into the cascade. The indicators are presented in an indicator pool that can be used to filter them based on the cascade steps, several quality criteria, and themes. The pool consists of 772 indicators, of which 735 were analyzed. In total, 252 analyzed indicators belong to the provisioning services, 314 indicators to the regulating services and 169 to the cultural services. The indicator pool offers a suitable starting point to select indicators for ES assessments within MSP. Using indicators at the different cascade steps allows the assessment of i) the ecosystem components generating the services and ii) the impacts on ES and their beneficiaries when changes occur in the provision of the services due to planning or management decisions. 

Sea Basin(s): 
Year: 
April 2020
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Sectors: 
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Study
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
No
Coherence with other processes: 
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer: 

  • How ecosystem cascade can be used in the MSP process?   

Implementation Context: 

The study resulted from the BONUS BASMATI project. 

Aspects / Objectives: 

The aim of the study was to demonstrate that the ecosystem cascade can be used to structure the stock-taking and future scenario analysis in MSP. 

Method: 

The authors applied consistent approach to sorting indicators into the cascade. The indicators were presented in an indicator pool that could be used to filter them based on the cascade steps, several quality criteria, and themes. The pool consisted of 772 indicators, 735 of which were analysed. In total, 252 analysed indicators belonged to the provisioning services, 314 indicators to the regulating services and 169 to the cultural services. The indicator pool offered a suitable starting point to select indicators for ES assessments within MSP. 

Main Outputs / Results: 

The study demonstrated that the cascade could be used to structure indicators in a meaningful way for ecosystem services assessments within MSP. 

Transferability: 

The methodological approach can be applied in MSP worldwide.

Responsible Entity: 

Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Seestraße 15, 18119, Rostock, Germany.

Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000, Roskilde, Denmark.

Aalborg University, A.C. Meyers Vænge 15, 2450, Copenhagen, Denmark

Funding Source: 

The study was produced within the BONUS BASMATI project supported by BONUS (Art. 185), funded jointly by the EU, Innovation Fund Denmark, Swedish Research Council Formas, Academy of  Finland, Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, and For-schungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany. 

Contact Person:

Miriam von Thenen: miriam.thenen@io-warnemuende.de

Pia Frederiksen: pfr@envs.au.dk

Henning Sten Hansen: hsh@plan.aau.dk

Kerstin S. Schiele: kerstin.schiele@io-warnemuende.de

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