Marine MPA/EEZ – ecosystem services valuation

Background to this study
This study was carried out in 2012 to assist in the development of decision-making tools for the conservation of New Zealand’s marine and coastal resources, particularly its marine protected areas2 (MPAs). This research activity involved collaboration between Ecological Economic Research New Zealand (EERNZ) of Massey University and the Department of Conservation (DOC). Its primary aim was to review the ecosystem services provided by the marine environment in New Zealand by: (i) analysing the supply, demand and value of ecosystem services within the current MPA network and (ii) assessing currently available valuation methods. It was hoped that this research would contribute towards better informed marine conservation management decisions, as well as spatial data relating to the use and value off ecosystem services in the coastal marine environment generally.

The concept of ecosystem goods and services (ES) has become increasingly important in conservation management. This study explores how ecosystem services theory, classification, valuation methods and spatial modelling tools can be used to manage and protect New Zealand’s existing marine parks, management areas, sanctuaries and the protected area network. Specifically, it summarises the ecosystem services of coastal and marine areas, including marine protected areas (MPAs), and provides an estimate of their values, based on a benefit-transfer of values from the literature.

Method and outcomes
The rapid ecosystem services assessment (RESA) method was applied to seven New Zealand marine areas, including the Exclusive Economic Zone (and Territorial Sea), a marine mammal sanctuary and five marine reserves. These RESAs were based on GIS data, which generated a solid starting point for the valuations and highlighted the benefit of having clear definitions of biomes. This study suggests that collectively, the case-study areas generated an average ecosystem services value of NZ$403B per year for 2010, which is about 2.07 times gross domestic product (GDP) for that same year (NZ$194B) and equates to a per capita ecosystem services value of NZ$92,245 per year. Qualitative analysis of the supply, demand and value of ecosystem services suggests that a change in the legal status of a marine or coastal area will only bring benefits if the value is perceived—which is often not the case for marine ecosystems. Therefore, this report concludes with an overview of the tools that are being developed for ecosystem services valuation, ranging from those that can be applied when the benefits are evident to those that are more suitable for when they are not.

Science report
The final science report provides an overview of a rapidly evolving body of ecosystem services theory, systems of classification, valuation methods and spatial modelling tools, and how they can be used to manage and protect New Zealand’s existing marine parks, management areas, sanctuaries and the protected area network. It also highlights some important gaps in the data and indicates knowledge that will need to be filled to move from using the ecosystem services concept as a ‘conversation starter’ to an ‘organising principle’ in decision support.

This report is available for download from:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/science-and-technical/sfc326entire.pdf

Leave comment