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A review of the ecosystem services provided by broad-scale marine habitats in England's MPA network

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This paper presents an analysis of the marine ecosystem services delivered by the broad-scale habitats (EUNIS Level 3) that will be included in England's new Marine Protected Area (MPA) network developed under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009). The assessment of ecosystem services was undertaken through a systematic literature review to identify evidence for the existence of either beneficial ecosystem processes or beneficial ecosystem services provided by each broad-scale habitat. The review found that broad-scale marine habitats provide a wide range of ecosystem services, which in turn suggests that their protection genuinely provides both direct and indirect benefits to society. However, there was substantially more evidence of beneficial ecosystem processes than beneficial ecosystem services which potentially reflects the tendency to study how a habitat functions, rather than how it is (or could be) used. In particular, a clear research gap was found related to how marine features are used for sport and recreation, tourism, nature watching and other nonextractive activities. In addition, the role of such habitats in supporting overall environmental resilience was unclear. Despite the variability of the evidence base, this study is significant as it identified, for the first time, the extent of the evidence base for ecosystem services provided by broad-scale marine habitats within England's MPA network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-383
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Coastal Research
Issue numberSPEC. ISSUE 64
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

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