Integration of Ecosystem Services and its Value in an Estuary Governance Model in the Context of Climate Change: Application to Ria de Aveiro Coastal Lagoon

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Last Updated September 12, 2018, 10:36 (Europe/Berlin)
Created July 17, 2018, 17:44 (Europe/Berlin)
Language Eng
Abstract Thesis: Triggered by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, among other seminal publications, ecosystem services research has experienced an almost exponential growth over the past two decades. Since then, ecosystem services have become widespread and the concept has been used in different disciplines, separately and in collaboration, to address complex socioecological problems. These efforts were accompanied at political level with a number of international and European initiatives, such as the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the adoption of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Driving the uptake of ecosystem services is the argument that its integration can lead to better environmental decision-making. Moreover, by emphasizing the ecosystems’ central role on human well-being it provides anthropocentric-oriented argumentation for biodiversity and nature conservation. This is particularly relevant for coastal regions which are complex socialecological systems with high ecological value but simultaneously under significant pressure. This challenges traditional forms of management and calls for a more integrative, adaptive, inclusive, and ecosystem-based management. Despite of the growing body of work, the actual uptake of ecosystem services into policy and decision-making processes is still limited and challenging. On this basis, and considering the constraints when putting ecosystem services into practice, this research aims to: i) develop and discuss a managementoriented approach to identify, classify and map the ecosystem services provided by a complex social-ecological system; ii) develop an in-depth study of the ecosystem services present in Ria de Aveiro coastal region, as well as the main pressures and potential impacts; iii) explore the potential of integration of the ecosystem services on spatial planning process, particularly on Estuary Programmes. Estuary Programmes were seen as a unique opportunity to investigate these issues, since they are special programmes, are focused on complex socialecological systems, and can be further explored. Though Vouga Estuary Programme was created in 2009, it has not been developed yet, which presents an opportunity for testing the proposed approach and methodologies in the future. Although it uses Ria de Aveiro costal region as case study, the lessons learned and the proposed model can be used in other social-ecological systems beyond the estuary level or Portugal. Despite of the identified biophysical, technical and management constraints, this research proved that it is possible to map multiple ecosystem services using available data, and that ecosystem services knowledge can be incorporated in spatial planning process by adapting current planning practices (including participation). As new data becomes available, ecosystem services’ assessment methods become standardized, and technical skills evolve, the proposed approach and methodologies can be gradually improved, following the adaptive management rationale. This research suggests that spatial planning processes need to bring together various disciplines from natural and social sciences, and be informed by multiple layers of information regarding the provision of ecosystem services, pressures, alternative futures and stakeholders’ preferences and concerns. Principles such as comprehensive, adaptive, inclusive, and integrative were considered key for guiding ecosystem services integration into spatial planning process. Additionally, it highlights the viability and relevance of integrating ecosystem services into the technical configuration of Estuary Programs and spatial planning processes, in general. It also demonstrates how the integration of these concepts helps to innovate and strengthen the process of environmental planning and management towards sustainability, territorial and social cohesion, responding to current societal challenges and contributing to human well-being.
Resource type
Spatial representation type
License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Classification Environment
Publication date 2017-08-04
INSPIRE theme Area management - restriction - regulation zones - reporting units
Free keywords CS5, Aveiro, Natura 2000, Ria de Aveiro, Baixo Vouga Lagunar, Vouga Basin, Portugal, lagoon, thesis
Vocabulary date type
Responsible party Organisation: Universidade de Aveiro
Role: Author
Spatial extent - North 40.87
Spatial extent - South 40.48
Spatial extent - East -8.45
Spatial extent - West -8.86

Dataset extent

Political boundaries: GAUL 2015, © FAO Statistics Division.