Ecosystem services: From science to policy

Shang Chen

First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry for Natural Resources, Qingdao, China


Ecosystem services (ES) are the benefits that humans derive from marine ecosystems. ES science is the bridge connecting the ecosystems to the human welfare. To push the mainstreaming of the ES assessment into policy-making at regional, national and local scales, UNEP established a permanent agency, i.e. the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The North Pacific Marine Science Organization also established a Working Group to promote the scientific studies of ES and its application in policy-making in the North Pacific countries. This session will focus on the methodological studies of ES and gross ecosystem products (GEP), sharing the cases studies of ES assessment, discussing the relationship among the services, health and sustainability of ecosystems. The session also welcomes these studies, such as, application of ES to assess the effectiveness of protected areas management and ecological restoration.


Ecosystem services of temperate forests: Planning and management

Ignacio J. Diaz-Maroto

University of Santiago de Compostela, Lugo, Spain


Temperate forests are located in middle latitudes of both hemispheres. There are two main types of native temperate broadleaf forests, broadleaf evergreen and broadleaf deciduous. Different species of the Quercus genus constitute the climax vegetation of most of these ecosystems and play a vital role for both biodiversity and people's livelihoods. Now, oak forests are under pressure from a global change because human activity has modified the species composition and the vegetation structure. However, the land use transformation is not unidirectional; wars, plagues, forest fires, demographic movements and climate change cause the agriculture abandonment and the forest restitution. Fortunately remnants of ancient forests can still be found in different regions. Our aim is to study and review applied forest management in temperate forests, both in the past and in the present.


Climate change impacts to ecosystem services and potential management responses

Janet Cushing, Sarah Weiskopf

US Geological Survey, Reston, USA


Climate change is already affecting and will continue to impact the supply and demand of ecosystem goods and services (EGS) that are important for human well-being. Understanding these impacts is important for policymakers and managers interested in maintaining key services, and research on the topic has grown in recent years. Climate impacts to EGS are context and service specific, and local and regional assessments of impacts are needed to get a full picture of potential responses.

In this symposium, we highlight recent research focused on climate impacts to specific EGS and potential management options. After the initial presentation that will set the context of climate change effects on the supply and demand of EGS, presenters will cover a range of geographically vulnerable areas, service types, and potential responses. 


Developing Indigenous-specific Ecosystem Services framework for marketing

Dr Kamaljit K Sangha1, Prof Robert Costanza2, Prof Jeremy Russell-Smith1

1Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia. 2University College London, London, Australia


In this symposium, the authors will share information on the Indigenous perspectives of Ecosystem Services (ES), currently available ES frameworks, and how these current frameworks fail to incorporate indigenous context. They will discuss alternatives that can help address Indigenous socio-cultural perspectives to develop a culturally appropriate ES framework for enhancing economic opportunities for the Indigenous estates across northern Australia.



Surfing economics: An integrated approach to understanding the total value of surfing resources for the market economy, the environment and human wellbeing. Learnings from current research and their implications for costal management and policy

Ana Manero

Australian National University, Canberra, Australia


With 50 million recreational surfers worldwide and the demand steadily growing, surfing resources (surf breaks and their surrounding ecosystems) have been recognized as key pillars for thousands of local economies across the world. At a global scale, surf tourism expenditure is estimated at over USD 65 billion a year (Mach and Ponting, 2021). As a lifestyle activity, surfing is a pull factor for regional employment and development (Machado, 2018). In addition, the personal and social wellbeing outcomes of surfing are equivalent to billions of dollars in consumer surplus (Raybould et al., 2013). From an environmental perspective, surfing reserves may act as an effective tool for the protection of ecosystem services for their economic, cultural and ecological values (Touron-Gardic and Failler, 2022).

Given their multi-dimensional importance, surfing resources are now attracting a growing body of scholarly work. The filed is still under-developed in Australia, thus calling for more attention on the part of researchers, policy-makers and coastal planners. 


Network models inform interdisciplinary research in sustainability and resilience

Brian Fath1, Ursula Scharler2

1Towson University, Towson, USA. 2University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


 This symposium welcomes contributions using network methodologies to investigate sustainability and resilience in ecological, social, and socio-ecological systems.  The analysis techniques, particularly those developed in the ecological network analysis literature, have recently had great saliency in exploring and understanding the indirect and holistic connections, and internal system processes, in a wide range of applications.  Specifically, the approach is useful for transferring nature-based ecosystem performance and sustainability indicators to improve system resilience and performance of socio-ecological and –economic systems.  This session is open to research papers at this interdisciplinary interface of network methods, theoretical and applied network-based research into sustainability and resilience, and environmental management.



Indigenous peoples, water values, and biocultural conservation

Pamela Katic1, Tania Martinez-Cruz2

1Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham, UK. 2Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium


For millennia, Indigenous Peoples have developed place-based traditional ecological knowledge and cultural values that promote ecological sustainability and equity. While today Indigenous Peoples are recognised as essential to meet internationally agreed goals for biodiversity conservation and sustainable water use, such recognition has not yet been fully embraced by mainstream water, conservation, and development policies. This session will assess what is needed to achieve a radical transformation towards rights-based collaborative approaches for water justice and biocultural conservation. The session will address topics such as mechanisms to bridge Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge systems, governance approaches  that facilitate and safeguard Indigenous Peoples’ contributions to water stewardship, and Indigenous Peoples' innovation networks in water management.


Irrigation water usage efficiency improvement by modification of root zone soil properties using carbon sequestration

Visala Tallavarjula

University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, USA


Irrigation consumes more than 80% of the world’s fresh water. The exploding global population and increasing food demands lead to water shortages. Irrigation efficiency improvement will help to mitigate water stress. My previous top-soil bed method showed up to 25% evaporation loss reduction, and a low-cost infiltration insert innovation enabled sub-surface-like irrigation without requiring expensive equipment.  The current project studies the effects of root zone soil modification on water retention using a percolation control layer (PCL). Charcoal amendment improves water retention, root health, and microbial activity while achieving carbon sequestration, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The design of the experiments’ study was conducted by varying PCL thickness, percentage of the charcoal amendment, and the grain size of charcoal added. The higher the PCL thickness, the charcoal amendment percentage, and the lower the charcoal grain size, the higher the water retention. With 33% charcoal amendment, 4 cm PCL thickness, and two charcoal grain sizes, field tests were conducted with radish plants. The PCL with coarse grain charcoal amendment showed 49% lower water consumption while also producing a 50% higher yield.


Coupled human and natural systems for sustainability

Jie Gong1, Shuai Wang2, Xutong Wu2

1Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China. 2Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China


In the Anthropocene, accelerated landscape modification and climate change are altering the earth's surface processes, leading to a series of social and environmental issues. Climate change, forest loss, ecosystem degradation, and the depletion of resources are global concerns, threatening the sustainability of human society. Addressing human society toward a path of sustainable development has become an urgent item on the research agenda of the scientific community and policymakers. To promote international cooperation on sustainable development, in 2000 the UN Millennium Declaration agreed on the eight Millennium Development Goals, and in 2015 the launch of the 2030 Agenda by the UN announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, recent reports suggested that it may not be possible to achieve the SDGs by 2030, mainly due to the complex and intertwined nature of these pressing sustainability challenges that human beings face. In recent decades, a growing consensus in academia has been reached, asserting that sustainability challenges cannot be properly addressed until humans and nature are treated as an entirety. The coupled human and natural systems (CHANSs), which are also referred to as coupled human and Earth systems, human and environment systems, and social–ecological systems, describe a complex phenomenon in which human processes and natural processes interact and co-evolve. In CHANSs, humans alter the ecosystem patterns and processes to obtain desired ecosystem services, such as food, fresh water, and timber; natural processes can affect human systems through environmental degradation and disasters, such as soil erosion, floods, and droughts. CHANSs provide a holistic and integrated perspective to combine the human and natural dimensions and elucidate their complex feedback mechanisms, which is needed to develop innovative insights and solutions to the sustainability challenges that characterize the Anthropocene. As CHANSs involve multiple natural and human processes interacting at different scales, this complexity poses a challenge for researchers to understand their dynamics. Addressing the sustainability challenges that humanity is facing in the Anthropocene requires the coupling of human and natural systems, rather than their separate treatment. To help understand the dynamics of a coupled human and natural system (CHANS) and support the design of policies and measures that promote sustainability, we propose a Symposia to discuss together.


Partitioning the ocean: Dividing efforts to protect fisheries and seafloor minerals

Kevin S. Sterling

Florida International University, Miami, USA


The oceans are an example of the tragedy of the commons—the rational person will extract as much from shared resources as possible, since no individual pays the full cost of the losses. This will deplete the resource until there is no more. When the oceans make up two-thirds of the Earth, and the high seas make up the majority of the oceans, this means that no one is responsible for protecting half of the Planet. We must expand territorial sea boundaries, so that nations are responsible for larger sections of the oceans. While countries that border oceans would have their territorial boundaries expanded, landlocked countries will also receive a share of the ocean. The idea is to divide the remaining nautical miles along geological features (ridges, planes, plateaus, basins, etc.) and/or animal migratory routes (great whales, dolphins, tuna, sharks, etc.). These subdivisions of the ocean would be randomly allocated to landlocked countries through a lottery system. Every country benefits from the oceans, directly from fishing and transportation, and indirectly through carbon sequestration and climate regulation. Every country already has a stake in the health of the oceans. By dividing sections of the oceans and distributing it among countries, it gives them a weighted incentive to protect it.


Ecosystem-based management of deep-sea mining

Jayden Hyman1, Oz Sahin1, Jeffrey Dambacher2, Piers Dunstan2, Malcolm Clark3

1Griffith University, Southport, Australia. 2CSIRO, Hobart, Australia. 3NIWA, Wellington, New Zealand


Deep-sea mining is a nascent industry that promises to diversify the global supply of critical metals. Our understanding of the effects of mining activities on the marine environment, however, remains uncertain. Extensive research is currently taking place in prospective mining areas to establish environmental baselines to understand and monitor potential environmental impacts. In this symposium, we apply the ecosystem approach to the monitoring and management of deep-sea mining, with a focus on predicting the effects of mining pressures on marine ecosystem structure, functions, and services. We emphasise the need for informative indicators to monitor potentially harmful effects, as well as ecological thresholds to establish a “safe operating space” for adaptive management.


Sustainable circular economy and bioeconomy in management, economics, and policy

Magnus Fröhling1, Sebastian Goerg1, Jennifer Yarnold2, Justus Wessler2

1Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany. 2University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. 3University of Wageningen, Wageningen, The Netherlands


The Circular Economy (CE) and the Bioeconomy (BE) are important cornerstones to achieve global, national and regional, and corporate sustainability goals. Thereby, the bioeconomy aims at a biologisation of economic activities. This is achieved through a shift towards renewable biogenic raw materials and energy carriers, the use of biochemical and biotechnological processes and taking nature as a role model to mimicking designs, organizational principles and processes (‘biomimicry’). The Circular Economy aims to achieve the sustainability goals by slowing, closing, and narrowing material loops. Both concepts should not be seen as separate but as overlapping and complementary to each other.

As the bioeconomy and the circular economy are gaining momentum, their consideration in management, economics, and policy science becomes more important. Behavioral changes, business model adaptation, and economic system transformation in ways that deliver true sustainable activities are facilitated and encouraged. Some existing work evaluates technologies and concepts in a rather attributional way. However, potential consequences are broader and include, among others, the benefits and costs to consumers and producers, externalities on uninvolved third parties, and environmental damages. Regarding the future success, identifying potential barriers and enablers that might limit or enhance the potentials becomes crucial. Such factors could be the support and attitudes of different stakeholders (e.g., consumers, workers, member of communities) or regulatory frameworks and to develop a scientific basis of the CE and the BE from the perspective of management, economics and policy sciences.

The proposed workshop and associated special issue of Ecological Economics on ‘Sustainable Circular Economy and Bioeconomy in Economics, Management, and Policy’ aims at bringing together researchers from management, economics, and policy fields to share and discuss these topics from different angles. Thus, we want to provide an overview of this important field for the further development of the bioeconomy and the circular economy, discuss existing works, research needs and envisage approaches for potential solution.

In doing so, we welcome submissions from researchers with backgrounds in the behavioral sciences, circular economy, industrial ecology, and other relevant areas of management, economics and policy.

Case studies, observational studies, (field) experiments, large scale RCTs as well as methodical works for simulation, optimization and policy analysis are welcomed.


Nature-based solutions for urban water management

Brandon Winfrey, Kanglin Tian

Monash University Department of Civil Engineering, Clayton, Australia


Nature-based solutions (NBS) are used to address many water quality, quantity, and event-based issues around the world. However, adopting NBS for urban water management poses unique challenges due to the high cost of land, development pressures, and highly altered hydrologic regimes of urban catchments. This symposium aims to coalesce recent research on NBS that are used to address urban water management challenges (e.g., stormwater harvesting, flood mitigation) and how these solutions intersect with other urban management issues (e.g., urban greening, urban heat island effect).

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