Special Guest Lecture: Dr. Aaron Strong, University of Maine

Wednesday, September 13 at 1:30pm

Coastal Institute, Auditorium 1 Greenhouse Rd, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA

Does the value of nature depend upon whom you ask? Understanding coastal ecosystem servicesheds and their implications for stakeholders
Aaron Strong, University of Maine
September 13, 2017, Kingston Coastal Institute Auditorium, 1:30PM
The consideration of ecosystem services as a basis for decision-making is quickly becoming a major paradigm in environmental governance and newly emergent institutional approaches to ecosystem services valuation and consideration are proliferating. Yet the ecosystem services governance literature reveals key tensions – about scale, stakeholder identification, knowledge of ecosystem services and the dissemination of the framework – that remain unresolved in our understanding of this emergent framework.

Ecosystem services are, by definition, generated from within spatially defined ecosystems that are geographically locatable and bounded. Yet the values provided by ecosystems are also multiple; a given ecosystem can simultaneously generate provisioning, regulating, sustaining, and cultural ecosystem services, and these services provide values to communities at scales ranging from a few meters (e.g. a coastal wetland’s water pollution mitigation benefits) to the entire planet (e.g. carbon sequestration’s climate change mitigation benefits). Understanding empirically what factors influence the uptake of this concept by local stakeholders is a key need to inform future governance.

Using the case study of tidal marsh ecosystems, I assess barriers to – and enabling factors for - the uptake of the ecosystem service concept among local, place-based coastal conservation organizations. I argue that the effective management of coastal ecosystem services, as envisioned by NGOs and federal and state agencies, requires governance approaches that can effectively engage with stakeholders across multiple geographic scales of servicesheds.

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