VALUING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN THE WESTERN CHANNEL
VALMER was an eleven partner, €4.7 million project co-funded by the INTERREG IV A Channel programme through the European Regional Development Fund, which aimed to examine how improved marine ecosystem services assessment could support effective and informed marine management and planning. The project ran from 1st September 2012 to 31st march 2015.
Exploring the links between ecosystem services assessment (ESA) and effective marine management and governance
The Western Channel is under increasing pressure from a wide range of competing uses and interests; effective and informed management of this shared space is vital to the sustainable use of this valuable resource. We know that ecosystem services assessment has the potential to improve marine management and planning, but there have been limited documented cases of how this might be achieved in practice.
The aim of VALMER, therefore, was to explore methodologies that could be used to quantify, qualify and communicate the value (economic, social and environmental) of marine and coastal ecosystem services, and to seek to improve understanding of the links between ecosystem services, their valuation, and effective marine management and governance.
An innovative cross-channel collaboration between the marine science and marine governance communities
To achieve these aims and bridge the gap between theory, policy and practice the VALMER project brought together marine science and marine governance communities from both sides of the Western Channel area. From the eleven project partners (led by Plymouth University) were drawn over sixty individuals with experience and expertise in a variety of academic disciplines and marine and coastal management contexts.
To facilitate such a large scale project VALMER was organised into six distinct but inter-related Work Packages. Each WP contained a pool of experts whose work was focused on delivering different aspects of the project. Each WP produced a number of specific outputs including academic papers, practical advice notes and policy guidance documents. Research from all WPs was also integrated and applied at the VALMER project’s six case study sites.
Practical applications of marine ecosystem services assessment
Focused around the Western Channel area and the waters of southwest England (Devon, Dorset and Cornwall) and northwest France (Brittany and Normandy), these six case studies were a central and integral part of the VALMER. They enabled the project to examine a range of different coastal environments and habitats and the ecosystem services that they provide, in the context of real, site specific, marine management issues.
Working alongside key stakeholders, VALMER aimed to provide policy-makers with a clearer understanding of the values that can be placed on the marine environment, and how these can be used to make more effective decisions. Its activities were also intended to be used to support Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) at a local level and to create integrated visions and action programmes. It also aimed to engage local coastal residents to raise awareness of ESA, and how it can be applied at a community level.