Appendix 2 – Ecosystem services
Ecosystem services, or nature’s services, are the benefits which humans are provided with or can take advantage of from a healthy and functioning ecosystem. They may be tangible (something physical which can be touched etc) or intangible (lacks physical substance, such as emotions).
Marine ecosystem services are often divided into different categories;
- Provisioning – tangible ecosystem goods, such as food, water and other resources,
- Regulating – services regulating our environment, such as protection from erosion or flooding, carbon capture and storage, or
- Cultural – non-material benefits, such as community identity, aesthetic joy, senses, recreation
There are also supporting services which essentially form the foundation without which the ecosystem services could not be delivered, for example dissolved oxygen in itself does not offer any direct ecosystem services, however is required in the marine environment providing a supporting service to underpin other ecosystem services.
The ecosystem based approach (EBA) looks at considering the entire ecosystem, including humans, when considering how to best manage the natural environment in a sustainable way to maintain the health of the ecosystem. Ecosystem services fits into the EBA concept, helping to consider and balance all needs from the ecosystem, good and services included.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) and the Marine Spatial Planning Framework Directive (2014/89/EU) require the application of an EBA to marine management in the UK. Marine planning throughout the UK will be aligned with the ecosystem based approach, with the UK Marine Policy Statement being clear that the process of marine planning will “manage competing demands on the marine area, taking an ecosystem-based approach”. An assessment of how the EBA has been integrated into marine plans in the UK and Ireland was published by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2017 and is available here.
The Clyde Marine Region Assessment provided an excellent assessment of ecosystem services provided by the Clyde marine area, sometimes supported by information from the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, and UK National Ecosystem Assessment and other sources, which have been used for the tables below. The tables have been adapted, if need be, for relevance to the Solway but are all from the basis of the Clyde Marine Region Assessment. For the original tables please see the Clyde assessment here.
This is a summary assessment, to learn more about detail about the ecosystem services provided by each kind of marine or coastal habitat see Fletcher et al (2012).
Image; Port Logan © G.Reid/ Solway Firth Partnership.