Ecosystem Services in the Nemunas Delta: Differences in Perceptions of Farmers, Birdwatchers and Scientists

Environ Manage. 2022 Apr;69(4):801-814. doi: 10.1007/s00267-021-01550-2. Epub 2021 Oct 29.


Engaging relevant stakeholders to identify ecosystem services is an important step in ensuring better management actions and nature protection. In this study, we involved three stakeholder groups that gave their opinions on different aspects regarding the usage, threats and protection of ecosystem services in the Nemunas Delta region (south-eastern Baltic Sea). Opinions from 178 respondents, representing local farmers, birdwatchers and scientists were collected in order to evaluate the importance of ecosystem services and to distinguish the most effective actions to sustain them. Despite many differences, there was a clear consensus among all three respondent groups about the importance of some ecosystem services such as water quality, water cycle, habitats for migratory animals, existence value, nature watching, subject for education and research and recreation. Birdwatchers appeared to be helpful in ecosystem services evaluation for their experience-based knowledge in this study region, but the differing perceptions of different groups on the majority of ecosystem services showed how important it is to include more than one stakeholder group in the assessment. The respondents did not agree about the actions needed to sustain ecosystem services--this highlights a need for compromises between anthropogenic activities and environmental protection, while an agreement on the necessity (willingness) to preserve natural values points to future development directions for the Nemunas Delta Region.

Keywords: Curonian lagoon; Protection; Public engagement; Questionnaire.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem*
  • Farmers*
  • Humans