The value of estuarine and coastal ecosystem services

  • Barbier, Edward B.; Hacker, Sally D.; Kennedy, Chris; Kock, Evamaria W.; Stier A
  • Sillman B
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Abstract

The global decline in estuarine and coastal ecosystems (ECEs) is affecting anumber of critical benefits, or ecosystem services. We review the main ecological servicesacross a variety of ECEs, including marshes, mangroves, nearshore coral reefs, seagrass beds,and sand beaches and dunes. Where possible, we indicate estimates of the key economic valuesarising from these services, and discuss how the natural variability of ECEs impacts theirbenefits, the synergistic relationships of ECEs across seascapes, and management implications.Although reliable valuation estimates are beginning to emerge for the key services of someECEs, such as coral reefs, salt marshes, and mangroves, many of the important benefits ofseagrass beds and sand dunes and beaches have not been assessed properly. Even for coralreefs, marshes, and mangroves, important ecological services have yet to be valued reliably,such as cross-ecosystem nutrient transfer (coral reefs), erosion control (marshes), andpollution control (mangroves). An important issue for valuing certain ECE services, such ascoastal protection and habitat–fishery linkages, is that the ecological functions underlyingthese services vary spatially and temporally. Allowing for the connectivity between ECEhabitats also may have important implications for assessing the ecological functionsunderlying key ecosystems s ervic es, such coastal protection, control of erosion, andhabitat–fishery linkages. Finally, we conclude by suggesting an action plan for protectingand/or enhancing the immediate and longer-term values of ECE services. Because theconnectivity of ECEs across land–sea gradients also influences the provision of certainecosystem services, management of the entire seascape will be necessary to preserve suchsynergistic effects. Other key elements of an action plan include further ecological andeconomic collaborative research on valuing ECE services, improving institutional and legalframeworks for management, controlling and regulating destructive economic activities, anddeveloping ecological restoration options.

Author-supplied keywords

  • coral reef
  • economic value
  • ecosystem service
  • estuarine and coastal ecosystem
  • mangrove
  • salt marsh
  • sand beach and dune
  • seagrass
  • seascape

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Authors

  • Adrian C Barbier, Edward B.; Hacker, Sally D.; Kennedy, Chris; Kock, Evamaria W.; Stier

  • Brian R Sillman

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