Coastal zone ecosystem services: From science to values and decision making; a case study

T. Luisetti, R. K. Turner, T. Jickells, J. Andrews, M. Elliott, M. Schaafsma, N. Beaumont, S. Malcolm, D. Burdon, C. Adams, W. Watts

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This research is concerned with the following environmental research questions: socio-ecological system complexity, especially when valuing ecosystem services; ecosystems stock and services flow sustainability and valuation; the incorporation of scale issues when valuing ecosystem services; and the integration of knowledge from diverse disciplines for governance and decision making. In this case study, we focused on ecosystem services that can be jointly supplied but independently valued in economic terms: healthy climate (via carbon sequestration and storage), food (via fisheries production in nursery grounds), and nature recreation (nature watching and enjoyment). We also explored the issue of ecosystem stock and services flow, and we provide recommendations on how to value stock and flows of ecosystem services via accounting and economic values respectively. We considered broadly comparable estuarine systems located on the English North Sea coast: the Blackwater estuary and the Humber estuary. In the past, these two estuaries have undergone major land-claim. Managed realignment is a policy through which previously claimed intertidal habitats are recreated allowing the enhancement of the ecosystem services provided by saltmarshes. In this context, we investigated ecosystem service values, through biophysical estimates and welfare value estimates. Using an optimistic (extended conservation of coastal ecosystems) and a pessimistic (loss of coastal ecosystems because of, for example, European policy reversal) scenario, we find that context dependency, and hence value transfer possibilities, vary among ecosystem services and benefits. As a result, careful consideration in the use and application of value transfer, both in biophysical estimates and welfare value estimates, is advocated to supply reliable information for policy making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-693
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2014


  • Context dependency
  • Ecosystem services
  • Flows
  • Stock
  • System complexity
  • Value transfer


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