A newly published article provides novel approach and evidence on the benefits of marine ecosystem services and welfare impacts of potential offshore Marine Protected Areas in Latvia. The results are published in an open access scientific article Pakalniete K., Ahtiainen H., Aigars J., Andersone I., Armoškaite A., Hansen S.H., Strāķe S. (2021) Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Service Benefits and Welfare Impacts of Offshore Marine Protected Areas: A Study from the Baltic Sea. Sustainability, 2021, 13, 10121. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810121. Available here.
The study evaluated benefits from ecosystem services (ES) provided by offshore marine areas, citizens’ willingness-to-pay for potential changes in the provision of ecosystem services, and welfare losses to citizens due to restrictions on economic activities from establishing new offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Latvian waters. Scenarios for the economic valuation were based on analysing the supply of ES from the protected marine habitats, showing changes in the ES supply in policy relevant scenarios of the MPA size. The study evaluated a wide array of ES delivered by offshore protected habitats and revealed that citizens’ willingness-to-pay for preserving habitats and ES supply exceeds their welfare losses from restrictions in economic activities. The approach supports the prioritisation of habitat types according to their contribution to ES supply and benefits for citizens. The analysis can be complemented with spatial data regarding distribution of habitats, providing an opportunity to identify areas with the highest ES benefits to support marine protection and spatial planning.
The article has been prepared based on results of two projects – the BONUS research project “Baltic Sea Spatial Planning for sustainable Ecosystem Services” (BONUS BASMATI) and the national project “Improving knowledge on state of the marine environment” funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.