Mechanisms for human-induced changes in marine life: impacts on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation

This project was part of the ESPA scoping phase, which ran between 2008 and 2011. The resulting proposal for further funding was unsuccessful.

This Partnership and Project Development grant sought to set up a project to quantify the mechanisms for human and natural induced changes to marine life and contribute the information and knowledge required for addressing poverty alleviation on the coast.

This was to be achieved through a synthesis of current understanding of drivers and pressures on marine ecosystems, the collection of observations and data analysis, model parameterisation and development, and scenario development.

To provide alternative pathways for sustainable poverty alleviation, the implications of various scenarios on growth and poverty were to be explored. These scenarios were planned to be developed with, and applied by, stakeholders within user communities since local stakeholders understood which ecosystem services were of interest to them and had preferences for management issues and aspirations for the ecosystems.

7 work packages were planned: WP1 Drivers and pressures of change and their interactions - to collate understanding of the different current and potential future pressures in the marine environment. WP2 Mechanisms by which drivers and pressures cause change - to elucidate the mechanisms by which these pressures and drivers and their interactions caused change. WP3 Impacts and interactive effects of changes - to investigate the impacts of the changes on the ecosystem, ecosystem services and their benefits and values, and effects on livelihoods. WP4 Case study sites - to provide case studies in which empirical research and model development could be conducted to underpin the other work packages and test the generic understanding gained in WPs 1-3. WP5 Political economy and institutional processes - to evaluate current forms and mechanisms of resource access by coastal poor and resource governance in case study sites. WP6 Projection - to apply established and novel analyses and modelling tools to make projections of ecosystem and economic futures. These projections examined the implications of mitigation and adaptation. WP7 Synthesis - to act as a vehicle to advance and facilitate integration across all the disciplines, sectors and research foci.

Maintaining human well-being into the future requires finding ways of sustaining ecosystems that are resilient to change, and have the ability to continue to provide important services. It means rethinking the way that natural resources are managed, taking a whole ecosystem perspective, understanding the interactions between the human and ecological systems, and employing sophisticated and intelligent monitoring, management, and governance practices.

There have been many attempts to reverse the impacts of environmental degradation on the people who are reliant on marine goods and services. Historically, individual efforts have been addressed in isolation, and in doing so, have largely ignored the huge range of interactions that take place between the drivers of environmental change and the broad spatial and temporal changes at which they operate. A more holistic framework is needed to understand: 1) the current status of the marine environment; 2) the rate and direction in which it is changing; 3) the causes of change and scales over which they operate; 4) the implications of such changes for environmental goods and services; and 5) the implications of changes in goods and services on the livelihoods of people who are dependent upon them. 

Lead Principal Investigator
Organisation: Centre for Env Fisheries Aqua Sci CEFAS
Country: United Kingdom