By Rebecca Rolle – Marine Conservation Expert at Tondo
The project in collaboration with Worldrise Onlus and Arianna Liconti project manager of Worldrise Onlus, concerns the conservation and innovation of the ecosystem services characterizing the Marine Protected Areas (MPA), with particular attention to the protection of marine biodiversity.
The MPA represent an element of sustainable development. It allows the conservation of biodiversity and natural processes; it provides shelter for endangered and threatened species and areas where fish can reproduce; it protects critical habitats from damage due to practices of destructive fishing and other human activities, catches of fish (in size and quantity) in the surrounding fishing sites up to 80%; it increases the resilience of ecosystems; it maintains local cultures, economies, tourism and livelihoods related to the marine environment; it maintains the promotion of education, training and scientific research activities, and compatible recreational activities; it allows control guaranteed by research and innovation for the waste cycle and water purification.
Biodiversity is the basis for the wealth of nations. In addition to intrinsic value, biodiversity is important because it is a source of goods and services for humanity, directly and indirectly, an essential aspect for its survival and prosperity. These services are called: ecosystem services (ES) and they represent “the benefits that people get from the ecosystem”. Biodiversity depends on the ability of natural systems to provide the ES that support the life of humankind and guarantee the life of all species. ES lead to better well-being of human communities capable of creating development opportunities, less vulnerability and greater health and resilience of natural systems. They consist of the production of food, the availability of water, raw materials, genetic resources, functions and processes of ecosystems such as absorption of pollutants, protection from erosion and floods, maintenance of water quality, disease control, services support such as the nutrient cycle and cultural services such as recreational, spiritual and traditional benefits. The loss of biodiversity due to anthropic actions is one of the indicators of the degradation of ecosystems which in turn affects other ES.
The EU’s biodiversity target for 2020 is based on the recognition that, in addition to its intrinsic value, biodiversity and the services it offers have an economic value that the market rarely looks at.
A cross-cutting approach is needed to tackle the biodiversity crisis which cannot be stopped by measures taken in isolation. The complexity and interdependence between social and economic systems and natural systems require interlinked measures through a systemic approach.
This work explores the relationships that join ecosystems to the social community. The research project investigates the importance that users attach to the Bergeggi Island Marine Protected Area (MPA), quantifying the SEs and estimating a possible total economic value that the various users associate with the protection of marine biodiversity and its benefits. The aim of this research project is to produce an element that is effective in guiding sustainable management of coastal spaces and marine resources. To the users were asked with the diffusion of the survey in events, online campaigns, newspapers and interviews, to pay for the protection of marine biodiversity, advising that it was just an “abstract sum” useful to the scientific research. The sociological analysis carried out during the project shows how the average of the 3 classes of users examined: divers, locals and tourists, indicates an economic value of the ES, obtained through the survey on “willingness to pay” (WTP) for marine biodiversity, between 0€ and 50€ on a choice of 0€ and 500€ .
The analysis shows how divers compared to locals and tourists are more available for sustainable development and conservation of the marine biodiversity of the area; greater willingness to pay from divers for fish and coralligenous, from local for invertebrates and from tourists for total marine biodiversity; the local were the least interested in the project.
Furthermore, the correlation between income and willingness to pay for total biodiversity shows that as income increases, there is a greater trend in the monetary arrangement for protection.
Another important observation get by survey demonstrates that all categories would like to obtain more environmental education regarding marine protection, less legal fishing activity within the area and a tougher control over illegal fishing.
This report represents a first monetary assessment of the main ES provided by the MPA Isola di Bergeggi. The conclusions represent information for future management and improvement policies of the ES offered by the Protected Areas. Among these there is the possibility of carrying out strategic actions aimed at enhancing the SE for a sustainable development of the Marine Protected Areas.