How coastal environments can inform management solutions

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Research perspective written by Carla I. Elliff
Laboratório de Estudos de Recifes de Corais e Mudanças Globais (RECOR), Instituto de Geociências
Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

How can I explain the importance of this research to the general public?

Natural ecosystems provide several benefits to mankind. From food to timber, to nutrient cycling, and even regulating erosion and our climate, healthy ecosystems are able to support human well-being in ways we sometimes do not even think of. Because of this, these benefits are not always thought of when actions are taken towards the environment. For example, mangroves play an important role in avoiding coastal flooding. So why not invest in conserving a mangrove ($) instead of building a seawall ($$$)?

This study gathers the main results from several papers that analysed the use of this ecosystem-oriented vision to solve environmental management problems. While this type of approach has already been applied to terrestrial environments, coastal ecosystems are behind. However, success stories in coastal areas have been published, which motivates researchers and managers to change their traditional strategies and go for more sustainable management options.

This was the first review on this subject and the expectation is that more success stories be published over the next few years.

Why is this important for researchers in fields other than ecology?

This study is a review of the benefits provided by natural ecosystems and the way in which an ecosystem-oriented vision can be applied to the management of coastal natural resources and land use. By analysing the benefits provided by natural ecosystems and the natural resources at hand, more sustainable and cost-effective solutions can be found to management issues in both terrestrial and marine areas.

Why is this important for researchers in the same field?

This study is a review of ecosystem services and their application within the context of coastal management. Ecosystem-based management allows for an integrative approach by valuing natural capital, respecting carrying capacity and considering human well-being for all stakeholders within a sustainable and resilient framework. Coastal management is beginning to encompass more integrated strategies, with some successful applications already in action.

Original article

The ecosystem service approach and its application as a tool for integrated coastal management
Carla I. Elliff, Ruy K.P. Kikuchi
Brazilian Journal of Nature Conservation, published online 23 October 2015


The original text was published by Associação Brasileira de Ciência Ecológica e Conservação and Elsevier Editora Ltda. Open Access to the full text is funded by Associação Brasileira de Ciência Ecológica e Conservaçã.

Originally published at

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