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Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services in the Azores

Award Period: 

Monday, January 1, 2018 to Saturday, December 21, 2019

Award Amount: 

$91 392

Agency Name: 

Oceano Azul Foundation

Award Number: 

SB180127

PI First Name: 

Christopher

PI last name: 

Costello

MSI Person: 

Area/s of Research: 

Abstract: 

Proposed Methods

Our proposed approach for this work includes the following three steps:

Valuation of ecosystem services: We will work with Oceano Azul to identify local partners and experts to support our economic evaluation, and a small research team from SFG will travel to the Azores at the onset of the project to begin developing relationships with key partners and identify the scope of ecosystem services to include in our analysis. After identifying the ecosystem services of interest, we will create a list of data needs, available data, and data gaps for the economic evaluation. We will work closely with local partners to collect and synthesize key data inputs, and leverage proven methodologies to evaluate ecosystem services with use values (such as fishing, tourism, and seabed mining) and non-use values (such as species preservation, biodiversity, and bequest value). After completing the analysis, we will present and ground-truth our results with partners, ideally in person, but remotely if necessary.

Assessment of existing and emerging markets: Once we have estimated the value of different ecosystem services, we will explore the opportunities for the value of these ecosystem services to be captured by existing and emerging environmental markets, or through new financing mechanisms that we will develop ourselves. While some ecosystem services will have a direct market value, others will have only non-market values for which revenue cannot be captured. For that class of services, we will assess the potential for the Azores to access newer markets, such as payments for ecosystem services programs or biodiversity markets, in order to capture the benefits of their conservation efforts. 

Explore the conservation outcomes of future policy scenarios: While a more comprehensive understanding of the value of ecosystem services will be helpful, there may be particular policy interventions under consideration that could significantly affect ecosystem service provision. We will work with local partners to identify such policies under consideration, and will estimate the ecosystem values lost (or gained) from these interventions.  Examples may include: MPAs, co-management regimes (including TURFs), and possible capacity building for sustainable new businesses (such as blue biotech, renewable energy, and scientific tourism). Ultimately we will quantify the costs and benefits of each policy scenario to evaluate the tradeoffs between the interventions, and our results can be used to inform the way Azorean authorities manage and conserve the islands’ marine resources and ecosystems moving forward.