The NCCOS applications group has deployed a new online survey and mapping tool that will support social science researchon the non-economic values of ecosystem services. This particular implementation of the tool is focused on ecosystem services valuation in National Estuarine Research Reserves and National Marine Sanctuaries. However, with very little modification, the tool could be applied to other regions and in other contexts.
The survey instrument will be used to collect data about the social values of specific locations, as well as information about the condition of ecosystem services, the respondents' attachment to place, site accessibility, and other management-related issues. The online access will allow researchers to share the survey easily with potential respondents, providing a great step toward expanding survey response rates. Also, with Internet access, the tool is useful for conducting surveys in the field, without having to deal with paper-based surveys and mapping exercises. Respondents answers are stored in a database, and the mapping component, which uses a Google Maps© interface, allows respondents to explore particular locations and place a variety of social value markers on the map.
Currently, the research team is using the tool to collect data on the Mission -Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The team will analyze the survey and mapping results, along with relevant environmental data, to tell reserve and sanctuary managers how visitors, recreationists, residents, and others are interacting with the environment and how those interactions might affect the condition of ecosystem services.
For more information about this social science research, contact Jarrod.Loerzel@noaa.gov.