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Project Details

Social Values of Ecosystem Services in Marine Protected Areas for Management Decision-making

Project Status: This project began in March 2013 and was completed in March 2016

We are exploring the connections between humans and the places they live, work, and play. Specifically, we are looking at how people use, how they value, and how they depend on the ecosystem services of marine protected areas. We are combining social science methods with the latest in geographic information systems research to better understand these connections and deliver to managers of marine protected areas maps that describe the connections between humans and their environment.

Why We Care
Understanding the connections between ecosystem services and human use, values, and dependence is complex. Yet, understanding these connections can greatly improve management efforts in marine protected areas. By incorporating a better understanding of how and why people value protected places into the decision-making process, managers can avoid potential conflicts between various user groups and plan for sustainable use by constituents.

This project will provide resource managers of marine protected areas valuable information concerning the linkages between humans and their use, value, and dependence upon the places where they live, work, and play.

What We Are Doing
We are surveying residents, visitors, and other users of marine protected areas to understand their attitudes, knowledge, and preferences regarding the current environmental condition and management actions within selected marine protected areas. We are collecting survey responses via paper-based and online methods. Additionally, we are seeking to understand the relationship between the end-points of ecosystem services—the things people care about—and the environmental features present in marine protected areas; these end-points of ecosystem services are also known as social values. To explore these relationships, we are asking survey respondents to weight the social values they deem most important and to identify areas on a map that they associate with those social values.

The social values we are interested in are:

• Aesthetic
• Biodiversity
• Economic
• Legacy
• In and of itself
• Learning
• Human Needs
• Recreation
• Spiritual
• Therapeutic
• Wilderness
• Inspiration
• Socializing

Once we obtain the respondents’ weighted social values, we incorporate their spatial data and analyze both with the geographic information system (GIS) application known as Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) (Available at Outputs from the SolVES application include heat maps that describe the relationship between social value intensity and explanatory environmental variables. Previous coastal condition work conducted by NCCOS and others will be used to supply the necessary environmental variables for the SolVES analysis.

Next Steps
We are conducting surveys in the five counties surrounding the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve complex in Texas and finalizing our approach to conduct our work in a National Marine Sanctuary. Over the course of the next two years (2014–2016), we will select two additional National Estuarine Research Reserves and National Marine Sanctuary sites to continue our research.

Region of Study: Texas

Primary Contacts: Jarrod Loerzel, Jeff Hyland, Maria Dillard

Research Themes: Coastal Pollution  • Climate Impacts  • Science for Coastal Ecosystem Management 

Related NCCOS Centers: CCEHBR, HML

* Printed on March 23, 2017 at 12:14 AM from .