Ecosystems are linked to human well-being through the flow of ecosystem services, i.e. the benefits the marine environment and its resources deliver to society. These include, for instance, the production of economically exploitable biomasses (e.g. fish) but also regulating services that sustain the environment, such as climate and seawater quality.
To date, in common practices ecosystem structures are mostly mapped and then interpreted in relation to their potential to supply different ecosystem services. Ecosystem condition, functions, flow of services as well as demand are the aspects, which are insufficiently addressed or ignored, particularly regarding marine ecosystems.
The oversimplification of complex systems’ interrelations easily increases uncertainty, producing biased estimates of the final ecosystem services. A weak integration of ecology and economy results in a disconnection of economic analysis from the functioning of ecosystems. Current valuation approaches hardly capture the cumulative impact of different human activities on ecosystem services, thereby failing in the achievement of sustainable use of natural resources and in ensuring their availability for future generations.
Based on the above WP1 develops an innovative framework to integrate ecosystem structure and functioning with the benefits produced, including regulating services that sustain life. The novel approach is applied in the project pilot areas in the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Riga to develop spatial models on ecosystem service supply in these areas.
In addition, the work package advances the methodology of the assessment of cumulative impacts of human uses on the environment and build a model tool that quantifies cumulative human impact on these ecosystem services in the pilot areas.