Peer-reviewed articles

Whale Ecosystem Services and Co-production Processes Underpinning Human Wellbeing in the Arctic: Case Studies from Greenland, Iceland and Norway

The concept of ecosystem services (ES) has only just begun to be applied in the Arctic, and to an even lesser extent to marine mammals, such as whales. This chapter develops an ES cascade model and related ES co-production processes as they apply to whale resources in the Arctic. The result is a new conceptual model demonstrating the interconnectedness of social-ecological processes involving natural and human capital that enhance human wellbeing through the co-creation of whale ES. An ES cascade model is presented for whale ES, which connects the five linked stages of such ES production: the biophysical structure, functions, ecosystem services, the benefits to human wellbeing, and associated values. They are further expanded to include the co-production processes of whale ES as well as its main stages, inputs, and flows. These processes are illustrated using examples from ARCPATH case studies of coastal communities dependent on whale resources: Húsavík in Iceland, Andenes in Norway, and Ilulissat / Disko Bay in Greenland. The chapter aims to improve the understanding of the human dimensions of ES and the underlying processes that enable Arctic coastal communities to benefit from whales. It provides a starting point for further analysis of possible research and management approaches regarding whale resources in the Arctic.

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Peer-reviewed articles

Willingness to pay for expansion of the whale sanctuary in Faxaflói Bay, Iceland: A contingent valuation study

Commercial whaling is a divisive issue in Iceland, and often considered to be irreconcilable with whale watching. The coexistence of both activities in Faxaflói Bay, adjacent to the capital city of Reykjavík, has led to the designation of part of the bay as a whale sanctuary, where whaling is banned. The study utilizes the contingent valuation method to elicit the preferences of Icelanders and estimate their willingness to pay (WTP) to expand the sanctuary to the full extent of Faxaflói Bay, with an aim to inform marine spatial planning in Iceland. Using the double-bounded dichotomous approach, the mean WTP for expansion of the Faxaflói Bay Whale Sanctuary was estimated to be 5082 ISK / 42 USD per person (1.32 billion ISK / 10.9 million USD when multiplied by the number of taxpayers), and 29.7% of the respondents with clearly defined preferences expressed positive WTP. According to the logit regression model, statistically significant socioeconomic and attitudinal variables included age, gender, level of education, number of persons in a household, and attitudes towards environmental conservation and whaling. Policy implications of non-market valuation of marine ES are discussed, pointing to a need to further assess the multiple marine ES values applying a transdisciplinary approach to inform decision-making.

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Peer-reviewed articles

Ecosystem services in the Arctic: a thematic review

The study presents the first systematic review of the existing literature on Arctic ES. Applying the Search, Appraisal, Synthesis and Analysis (SALSA) and snowballing methods and three selection criteria, 33 publications were sourced, including peer-reviewed articles, policy papers and scientific reports, and their content synthesized using the thematic analysis method. Five key themes were identified: (1) general discussion of Arctic ES, (2) Arctic social-ecological systems, (3) ES valuation, (4) ES synergies and / or trade-offs, and (5) integrating the ES perspective into management. The meta-synthesis of the literature reveals that the ES concept is increasingly being applied in the Arctic context in all five themes, but there remain large knowledge gaps concerning mapping, assessment, economic valuation, analysis of synergies, trade-offs, and underlying mechanisms , and the social effects of ES changes. Even though ES are discussed in most publications as being relevant to policy, there are few practical examples of its direct application to management. The study concludes that more primary studies of Arctic ES are needed on all of the main themes as well as governance initiatives to move Arctic ES research from theory to practice.

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Peer-reviewed articles

Peering into the fire - An exploration of volcanic ecosystem services

Volcanic ecosystem services (ES) is a subject that has been overlooked by the vast ecosystem services literature, where the spotlight has been focused on the many ecosystem disservices (ED) of volcanic hazards. This study conducts a literature review using the Search, Appraisal, Synthesis and Analysis (SALSA) framework, identifying the main ES common to volcanic environments. The Common International Classification for Ecosystem Services typology is utilized to provide a classification of volcanic ES. A diverse array of 18 ES are identified, categorized as follows: provisioning (8), regulation and maintenance (2), and cultural (8). Resilience is a key property underpinning the ecological processes, functions and productivity of Andosols, which are often some of the most fertile soils on the planet. However, careful management of Andosols, volcano-themed national parks and geothermal energy resources remains necessary to ensure that the flow of related ES is sustainable. Through sustainable soil and geothermal energy resource management, volcanic ES can make a long-term contribution to the tackling of climate change, including the partial offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions released via volcanic degassing during eruptions. Sustainable tourism management can ensure the protection, conservation and economic development of volcanic sites of high geo-heritage value, including national parks and geoparks, where the distinct aesthetics of such environments underpin the recreational and tourist experience.

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Peer-reviewed articles

Co-production processes underpinning the ecosystem services of glaciers and adaptive management in the era of climate change

Glaciers have been an increasingly studied topic in the ecosystem services (ES) literature, with multiple scientific studies affirming a critical and diverse contribution to human well-being. However, the literature to date on glacier ES has lacked a systematic analysis of their type and the various stages in the formation of glacier ES, including the linkages between biophysical structures and ecological processes to human values, benefits and well-being. This paper begins to fill this gap by (1) detailing the first Common International Classification for Ecosystem Services classification of ES specific to glaciers; and (2) constructing an ES cascade model specific to the ES of glaciers, integrating four main stages of co-production: value attribution, mobilization of ES potential, value appropriation, and commercialization. In both stages, examples from the academic and gray literature are highlighted. Based on a systematic literature review, a total of 15 ES are identified, categorized as follows: provisioning (2), regulation and maintenance (6), and cultural (7). Apart from abiotic regulation and maintenance ES, it is evident that human interventions are necessary in order to mobilize, appropriate and commercialize several glacier ES, including freshwater for drinking, hydropower generation, recreation and education. Rapidly intensifying climate change has led to intense focus on the initial co-production process of value attribution and identification of dynamic ES potential, with a view to maximizing commercial benefits in the coming decades where this is possible, especially linked to hydropower generation from glacial rivers . However, this study also finds that adaptive ecosystem management is a necessary pre-requisite of resilience but may be insufficient in this context to address potential ecosystem disservices and potentially catastrophic impacts to human well-being, such as from dangerous glacier outburst floods.

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Peer-reviewed articles

A contingent valuation approach to estimating the recreational value of commercial whale watching – the case study of Faxaflói Bay, Iceland

There is currently limited knowledge concerning the economic value of commercial whale watching from the perspective of the consumer's trip experience. This study outlines the results of an in-person contingent valuation survey, which asked whale watching tourists in Faxaflói Bay, Iceland, how much they would have been willing to pay beyond the paid ticket price. Based on a sample of 163 tourists, only 30 (18.40%) reported any consumer surplus, despite the majority stating positive satisfaction with the experience. Mean consumer surplus was 768 ISK (approximately 5.60 euros). Scaled up to the number of whale watching tourists in Faxaflói Bay in 2018 of 148,442, aggregate CS was approximately 114.0 million ISK (0.83 million euros), a 6.9% mark-up on estimated annual revenue generation derived from average ticket prices. The study provides new information on the economic value of whale watching in an area which had already been part-designated as a whale sanctuary.

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Peer-reviewed articles

Whale sanctuaries – An analysis of their contribution to marine ecosystem-based management

Goal 14, 'Life Below Water', of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals sets a target for nations to increase the number of marine protected areas managed using ecosystem-based management, which requires interventions focused on fish stock conservation and enhancement, environmental sustainability and ecosystem services of benefit to human beings. Although not adhering to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's criteria for marine protected areas, whale sanctuaries are an increasingly common approach to conservation around the world. This paper is the first in the academic literature to use a case study approach to review the extent to which whale sanctuaries contribute to ecosystem-based management. A fifteen-criteria framework for marine ecosystem-based management has been applied with reference to six whale sanctuary case studies, including the International Whaling Commission's two designations in the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean. The review underscores the generally very limited contribution of whale sanctuaries to ecosystem-based management, unless they are explicit in stating conservation goals and embedding these within iterative management plans. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is cited as an example of an approach that comes closest to fulfilling the objectives of ecosystem-based management, albeit its designation lacks consideration of ecosystem dynamics and the interrelationships between multiple economic actors operating within its boundaries. In order to meet the requirements of Goal 14, the case studies in this paper reveal advancements necessary for whale sanctuaries to transition towards ecosystem-based management: establishment of objectives broader than the conservation of whale stocks, assessment of the contribution of the sanctuary to human well-being and trade-offs in ecosystem services, accounting for ecological and socio-economic dynamics, and ensuring broad stakeholder consultation and participatory adaptive management.

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