Method for the quantitative evaluation of ecosystem services in coastal regions

PeerJ. 2019 Jan 14;6:e6234. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6234. eCollection 2019.

Abstract

Wetlands, tidal flats, seaweed beds, and coral reefs are valuable not only as habitats for many species, but also as places where people interact with the sea. Unfortunately, these areas have declined in recent years, so environmental improvement projects to conserve and restore them are being carried out across the world. In this study, we propose a method for quantifying ecosystem services, that is, useful for the proper maintenance and management of artificial tidal flats, a type of environmental improvement project. With this method, a conceptual model of the relationship between each service and related environmental factors in natural and social systems was created, and the relationships between services and environmental factors were clarified. The state of the environmental factors affecting each service was quantified, and the state of those factors was reflected in the evaluation value of the service. As a result, the method can identify which environmental factors need to be improved and if the goal is to increase the value of the targeted tidal flat. The method demonstrates an effective approach in environmental conservation for the restoration and preservation of coastal areas.

Keywords: Artificial tidal flat; Ecosystem services; Ecosystem-based management; Quantitative evaluation; Sustainability; Tidal flat; Wetland; Wetland restoration.

Grant support

This work was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid (KAKENHI, no. 18H04156) and the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-14) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. There was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.