Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

A + b = x : Calculating the value of marine ecosystems

Written by Michel Neumuller, MARSEILLE on Monday, March 2nd 2015 à 17:55 | Read 414 times

Quantifying the value of services rendered by marine ecosystems could encourage decision makers to value them more. Three European data centres are trying to do just that. However, it all begins on a human level with local stakeholder meetings in Tunisia and Croatia.

Putting a value on the various services provided by marine ecosystems for mankind (Photo MN)
Putting a value on the various services provided by marine ecosystems for mankind (Photo MN)
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Basque Center for Climate Change in Bilbao (Klima Aldaketa Ikergai) and the United Nations Environment Program DEWA/GRID-Geneva are processing thousands of statistics concerning the physical and human environments in the Mediterranean using the Climagine method.
By using three specific mathematical models, these institutions hope to calculate the value of marine ecosystems.
These areas provide numerous services, but are rarely valued by decision makers. The project supported by Plan Bleu aims to change this, starting with shared human experience.
“The idea is to use the collaborative Climagine method to evaluate the services provided by coastal and marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean, while also hearing from local experts,” explains Antoine Lafitte, who coordinates studies on the integrated management of coastal areas at Plan Bleu for the Mediterranean.
Stakeholders in the field are well aware that humid coastal areas play a role in reducing flood levels and carbon capture. In the same way, Posidonia meadows provide a ready supply of food in the Mediterranean. But how do you calculate their value? Researchers are hoping Climagine could be the answer.

Stakeholder discussions help mathematicians solve the equation

Sustainable fishing preserves the quality of the environment (photo MN)
Sustainable fishing preserves the quality of the environment (photo MN)
“The statistics are important, but human experience gives them their value,” Antoine Lafitte points out. “This is why Plan Bleu has sought to bring together stakeholders who are able to shed light on the services rendered by these ecosystems.”
These discussions have already become a reality. The project has united around 40 experts and representatives over the past two years in the Kerkennah Archipelago in Tunisia and the county of Šibenik-Knin in Croatia. These two areas are threatened by erosion and salt water intrusion into aquifers.
“Human activities in these areas will suffer the effects of climate change. This is why taking action to preserve marine and coastal ecosystems makes sense, as it will reduce the impact of global warming,” the Plan Bleu coordinator explains.
The local representatives, experts, scientists and environmental campaigners invited to take part in the project have shared their thoughts and data. “We are trying to find ways to harmonise and integrate these into the models that will be used to calculate their value.”
The exercise and theme of the project may have been a new concept for a number of Croatian and Tunisian participants, but the purpose of the programme is clear. “It’s about making human activities sustainable so that they can continue in the future,” concludes Antoine Lafitte. “Greater awareness depends on decision makers and the price tag they put on our ecosystems.”

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