Ecosystem services: The past, the pitfalls and the potential for supporting wellbeing of people in the Western Indian Ocean

About

Tim Daw’s keynote presentation at the 10th WIOMSA symposium.

What has the science of ecosystems services got to offer the people and policymakers of the WIO region? And what are the opportunities to use this now widespread concept to sustainably support human wellbeing through these turbulent times. I outline key insights, challenges and opportunities from ecosystem services and wellbeing research.

First, Daw reviews where the term ‘ecosystem services’ comes from. He outlines the different usages and some pitfalls and critiques. Then draws on examples from WIO and around the world to illustrate three key insights from research using the concepts of ecosystem services and human wellbeing: 1. The importance of trade-offs 2. The ‘co-production’ of ecosystem services by people and nature, and 3. The complexity of the relationship between humans’ wellbeing and their environment. This leads to two key challenges and research frontiers: How can we interpret and understand change? And how can we navigate hard choices and tradeoffs?

Finally, Daw focuses on two opportunities for this research to contribute in WIO. The first opportunity is to use greater understanding of how ecosystems are linked to wellbeing to generate interventions for sustainably improving people’s lives. The second is for scientists to leap out of our comfort zone into transdisciplinary research with coastal people, policy makers and other disciplines. The insights from research shows that management of ecosystem services is messy, political and uncertain. As, scientists we cannot be expected to provide simple solutions, but we have a responsibility to engage, inform and provoke decision makers at all
levels as they navigate through uncertain futures.

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Structure-Conduct-Performance of nearshore marine fisheries in Kenya

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Andrew Wamukota’s presentation at the WIOMSA symposium on the structure-conduct-performance of nearshore marine fisheries in Kenya. This presentation is an exploration of the what we can learn from S-C-P in understanding poverty among actors. An application of S-C-P in nearshore marine fisheries is useful in understanding the behaviour of actors and how these influence their wellbeing. Although data analysis is not really done, there are forward and backward loops inherent at similar nodes (in terms of conduct e.g. no. of customers is +ve for fishers and –Ve for trader). A better understanding of this can be achieved by use of longitudinal data across similar fishers in the region.

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Understanding the disaggregated nature of ecosystem services wellbeing relationship in northern Mozambique

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Dominique Goncalves’ picturesque presentation on the disaggregated nature of ecosystem services wellbeing relationship. She points out that fish and octopus are linked with most basic needs, but people are less satisfied with octopus, and that satisfaction levels vary between the communities. The levels can have to do with gender, tradition, conservation, migration, and/or development.

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SPACES Data Explorer

In May 2017, SPACES researchers received additional impact funding from ESPA to share the project’s knowledge assets. The funding was used to develop SPACES Data Explorer. The idea springs from suggestions that the stakeholders gave in pilot interviews, about sharing findings with graphs and making it more user friendly. The Data Explorer democratizes SPACES data on basic needs, ecosystem services, and wellbeing and makes it accessible for a wider audience beyond academia. The methods used to collect the basic needs data is described in  the publication by Chaigneau et al (2018), see here for more information.

The Data Explorer was presented during Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) Symposium in November, where SPACES co-hosted a full day special session with ESPA. It was then shared in 1-1 follow-up meetings with key stakeholders in Kenya and in Mozambique.

Click here to view the Data Explorer.

On the first page of the Data Explorer, you can read about the different datasets and what information is displayed. This is also where you will choose the site or sites you wish to explore on the left handside of the screen. Remember to click Go To Charts!

The first chart that you will come to displays the basic needs that are not met in the site or sites that you have chosen. You can hover over the bars to see the definitions of the basic needs.

Next you can choose to view what impact ecosystem services have on the basic needs. The bar heights will not change, but the colours will. Here it is important to focus on the colours rather than height. Dark green represents an ecosystem service that has high impact on the basic need. In the example below, we see that Mangrove Poles have a high impact on education (females), physical security (males & females), shelter (males & females), food (males), sanitation (males), relationship (males & females). Mangrove poles are used to build house therefore they have an impact on shelter, but they are also sold for money which is used to pay for school fees (education), food, and soap (sanitation). The practice of collecting and harvesting mangrove poles builds relationships. For more information on the connections between the ecosystem services and the impact on basic needs refer to the bottom of the information page on the Data Explorer.

Below the chart, text information on who has access to the mangrove poles appears along with the state of the ecosystem.

This chart shows how males and females perceive an ecosystem service to contribute to their wellbeing. This example shows how octopus is perceived to benefit males and females in Vamizi, Mozambique. 

Happy Exploring! Please email spaces.communication@gmail.com if you have any questions or feedback.

References

Chaigneau, T., Coulthard, S., Brown, K., Daw, T.M. and Schulte‐Herbrüggen, B., 2018. Incorporating basic needs to reconcile poverty and ecosystem services. Conservation Biology https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cobi.13209

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Report from 1:1 Meetings in Mozambique

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Meeting report from the one-to-one meetings held in Mozambique with six key organizations and institutions. Salomao Bandeira and Celia Macamo led the meetings and shared SPACES key findings and results with the stakeholders. The report outlines who was met, what was presented, and what more information was requested from the stkaheholders.

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