Valuing ecosystem services

Helping develop the evidence base on marine ecosystem services associated with seabed features

To inform policy decisions on management measures under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in UK waters, ABPmer was part of a consortium, led by eftec, which was asked to develop the evidence base on marine ecosystem services (ES) associated with seabed features.

The project combined scientific review and modelling to identify and quantify the marginal changes in ES provision due to policy changes together with economic valuation (using secondary data or generating primary data) to express these changes in monetary terms.

ABPmer led the development of the spatial ecosystem services model covering UK seas that could be used to estimate marginal changes in the levels of ecosystem services in response to changes in the level of abrasion of the seabed from towed fishing gears. The model took account of current scientific understanding of the linkages between human activity pressures, the condition of benthic habitats and the ecosystem services that they provide.

The dynamics of the marine environment such as existing rates of change, potential limits and thresholds to services, irreversibility of changes, and long-term issues such as inter-generational impacts were also considered throughout the project.

While the focus of the study was in relation to potential management measures under MSFD, the project is recognised as having potentially much wider utility to support marine planning and marine conservation management. The outputs from the study are expected to be further developed and applied by Defra and others to support marine policy development and wider marine management.

ABPmer routinely advises marine sectors on regulatory and policy matters and has a long history supporting government and its agencies in developing the evidence base against which policy decisions are made.