The 7th Ecosystem Services Partnership conference

Niels Jobstvogt

University of Aberdeen


The 7th Ecosystem Services Partnership conference
The 7th Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) conference took place in San Jose, Costa Rica in the second week of September 2014 and attracted over 350 ecosystem services researchers and practitioners from around the globe. In line with the conference motto: Local action for the common good I hosted a problem-solving workshop on a local biodiversity offsetting project. The workshop was organised on behalf of the Young Ecosystem Services Specialists (YESS)  network and targeted early career researchers and practitioners. The biodiversity offsetting project was part of the development of a hydro-power dam in the wider river catchment area. Workshop participants provided feedback on incentives increasing buy-in by local stakeholders as well as approaches aligning their land management practices with the biodiversity offsetting goals in the region. This workshop constituted a precedent case that international conference participants are willing and able to contribute directly to local environmental problem-solving. Not only did our local partners get the chance to present their project, our YESS network also got the chance of a cross-disciplinary learning opportunity. Within the interdisciplinary ecosystem services community such learning opportunities need to happen more frequently to allow a successful integration of different perspectives and methods across disciplines in the long run.

I also presented a paper on how to assess cultural ecosystem services of marine users in the UK as part of Peter Schuhmann’s (University of North Carolina Wilmington) session: Monetary valuation of ecosystem services: Case studies and lessons learned. The paper focussed on how survey participants perceive cultural ecosystem services benefits associated with marine biodiversity, which is part of their angling and diving experiences. It highlighted an innovative approach on how to assess the non-use (i.e. existence and bequest) value of marine ecosystems. The case study formed part of a UK National Ecosystem Assessment project lead by the University of Aberdeen. This special session was one of the few marine related topics at the conference. Overall the topic of marine ecosystem services remains underrepresented in the ESP community while this community is the most important umbrella organisation for ecosystem services researchers. This is a huge opportunity for marine scientists to engage in the dialogue on how marine ecosystems and the benefits they provide affect human well-being.

I very much like to thank the Challenger Society for giving me the unique chance of attending this inspiring conference. The conference gave me the opportunity to meet many leading ecosystem service researchers which I had never met before. To everyone interested in how to approach complex socio-ecological problems and keen to engage in interdisciplinary research collaborations, I can highly recommend participating in the ESP conference 2015 which will take place on the African continent this time.

Profile of award holder:
I am an interdisciplinary PhD student in Environmental Economics and Marine Biology at the University of Aberdeen. Throughout my research I was using the ecosystem services approach to improve current assessments of the social and economic benefits provided by the marine environment and through MPAs in particular. My main interest is to better understand how the average citizen perceives the importance of marine protection and how different perceptions might lead to societal conflicts.

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