This semester for my environmental services class, we had a final project to create a concept map of a potential way to conceptualize a Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) scheme. We could choose any topic, and since I have a dream of one day managing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) I chose this as my topic! The following is the outline and explanation of this concept map. I hope you enjoy it and learn something!
Ecosystem service: Biodiversity of MPA
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been used as a marine management strategy for the past forty years to conserve marine ecosystem services. According to a report on marine ecosystem service payments, MPAs are “established publicly through government or privately using financially self-sustaining means. Within an MPA, access and use of a marine environment is limited allowing the environment to prosper and become a product for ecotourism, education, or research (Forest Trends and The Katoomba Group, 2010; p. 5).
Habitat diversity: The diversity in marine protected areas varies by region and climate. Different habitats include open ocean, estuaries, coral reefs, oyster reefs, mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, among more niche environments. Habitat biodiversity contributes to the overall diversity within an MPA. It can be affected by and affect the species biodiversity of the MPA. There are various commodities and environmental services provided to human populations from the biodiversity within habitats which are listed below.
Habitat diversity commodities and services
- Provisioning commodities include fisheries, alternative energy, and medicinal/pharmaceutical bio-prospecting or harvesting. Fisheries contribute to livelihoods in terms of food and profit. Alternative energy provides jobs and electricity to communities. Important habitats such as oyster reefs provide supporting services that keep water clear, allowing algae-producing supplements to thrive for medicinal harvest. Indicators to measure these commodities include fishery yields, remote sensing for alternative energy potential, and the abundance of important species for medicinal/pharmaceutical purposes.
- Regulating services include carbon cycling and sequestration, shoreline stabilization, and natural hazard protection. Indicators to measure these services include remote sensing, calculating the storage availability of critical marine environments, restoring or enhancing wetlands and reefs, the quantity of sand on shoreline, and the size and rugosity or structure of reefs.
- Cultural services include potential ecotourism, recreation (beach leisure, diving, fishing, snorkeling, boating), aesthetic, culture, and spiritual values. Indicators to measure these commodities include examining which services people are sharing the most on social media and surveys on what people value most about these ecosystems and their biodiversity.
- Supporting services include primary production from phytoplankton abundance and nutrient cycling from benthic (seafloor) sediments. Related indicators to measure these services include measuring chlorophyll a concentration and the abundance of important benthic species.
Species diversity: the diversity in a marine protected area is largely determined by primary productivity, disturbance history, and other environmental factors. Species biodiversity contributes to the overall diversity within an MPA. It can be affected by and affect the habitat biodiversity of the MPA. There are various commodities and environmental services provided to human populations from the biodiversity within habitats which are listed below.
Species diversity commodities and services
- Provisioning commodities include fisheries and medicinal/pharmaceutical harvesting. Different species of fish are important for different nutrient uptake, especially in different trophic levels of the food web. Biodiversity of species is important for supporting the resilience and health of important medicinal species, such as horseshoe crabs. Indicators to measure these commodities include fishery yields, species abundance, species richness, and identifying and promoting biological hotspots.
- Regulating services include carbon cycling and sequestration, disease resilience, genetic health, and water quality. Indicators to measure these services include carbon modeling, species abundance, species richness, genetic diversity with eDNA, and measuring the restoration of keystone species like seagrass, mangroves, and oysters.
- Cultural services include the potential for ecotourism, recreation (beach leisure, diving, fishing, snorkeling, boating), aesthetics, culture and spiritual values. Indicators to measure these commodities include examining which services people are sharing the most on social media and surveys on what people value most about the biodiversity of species or the presence of specific species and community assemblages.
- Supporting services include primary production by phytoplankton and nutrient cycling by specific communities, such as benthic detritivores or decomposers. Indicators to measure these services include chlorophyll a concentration, video monitoring of phytoplankton diversity, and the abundance of different detritivore species and assemblages.
- Human Security is provided with regulating and supporting services which provide natural coastal infrastructure and resilience to storms. This includes providing the ability to live in an environmentally clean and safe area with the ability to reduce vulnerability to ecological shocks and stress. This can be measured by analyzing shoreline stability, rugosity and strength of coral reefs, availability of habitat diversity to slow tropical storms. It is also supported by provisioning services that provide access to food and fuel, which can be measured by the accessibility to these provisions. Security is also related to cultural services, which can provide job or income security.
- Good social relations include the opportunity to express aesthetic, recreational, cultural, and spiritual values and the opportunity to observe, study and learn about the ecosystem. This can be measured through stated or revealed preferences on how local communities feel the establishment of the MPA has improved or changed their social relations due to the changes in services. Good social relations are also related to the availability of provisioning services, to diminish inequitable conditions within the community. This can also be measured by examining the availability of these commodities.
Ecosystem Service Payment Program
- Government financed
- MPAs are often government financed to prevent free riders and create holistic management. This is usually done by public land and underwater habitat acquisition or purchases by a government agency explicitly for biodiversity conservation.
- Market participants
- Buyers are most likely governments or agencies. They would be creating an MPA for implementing policy (UNFCCC and CBD), adhering to national regulations to protect the environment, investing in long-term natural resources supply, responding to public pressure, averting environmental cataclysmic events (hurricanes and tsunamis), and reducing costs (investing in natural filtration systems > water treatment). Their willingness to pay includes cost of restoration, substitution costs, risks of investment, price of other PES deals and transaction costs.
- Sellers would include private landowners who own the coastline or the government who owned the land previous to it being converted into an MPA. The seller’s asking price includes opportunity costs, management costs, risk of failure, competition with other sellers, and transaction costs.
- Opportunity costs include whatever the seller could have profited from other uses.
- Transaction costs include developing the transaction, costs of management changes and implementation. Reducing these transaction costs could be accomplished by establishing intermediary management institutions to manage the MPA, assessing plans for ecosystem services’ contributions, and monitoring.
- Valuation: we need to be able answer (1) How valuable are these services? and (2) How much worse off would we be without them?
- Stated preferences: contingent valuation to measure the willingness-to-pay to obtain a service such as the intrinsic value represented, harvesting value, and potential for increasing supporting and regulating services
- Revealed preferences: examine the cost of replacing the service with a substitute protected area scheme such as comparing a “No Take” MPA to an MPA that allows harvesting resources
Citation: Forest Trends and The Katoomba Group. 2010. Payments for Ecosystem Services: Getting Started in Marine and Coastal Ecosystems: A Primer. Report.