An Ecosystem Service Evaluation Tool to Support Ridge-to-Reef Management and Conservation in Hawaii

Monday, 15 December 2014
Kirsten Oleson1, Tova Callender2, Jade M.S. Delevaux1, Kim A Falinski1, Hla Htun1 and Gan Jin1, (1)University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, United States, (2)West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, Kaanapali, HI, United States
Faced with increasing anthropogenic stressors and diverse stakeholders, local managers are adopting a ridge-to-reef and multi-objective management approach to restore declining coral reef health state. An ecosystem services framework, which integrates ecological indicators and stakeholder values, can foster more applied and integrated research, data collection, and modeling, and thus better inform the decision-making process and realize decision outcomes grounded in stakeholders’ values. Here, we describe a research program that (i) leverages remotely sensed and empirical data to build an ecosystem services-based decision-support tool geared towards ridge-to-reef management; and (ii) applies it as part of a structured, value-based decision-making process to inform management in west Maui, a NOAA coral reef conservation priority site. The tool links terrestrial and marine biophysical models in a spatially explicit manner to quantify and map changes in ecosystem services delivery resulting from management actions, projected climate change impacts, and adaptive responses. We couple model outputs with localized valuation studies to translate ecosystem service outcomes into benefits and their associated socio-cultural and/or economic values. Managers can use this tool to run scenarios during their deliberations to evaluate trade-offs, cost-effectiveness, and equity implications of proposed policies. Ultimately, this research program aims at improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity outcomes of ecosystem-based management. This presentation will describe our approach, summarize initial results from the terrestrial modeling and economic valuations for west Maui, and highlight how this decision support tool benefits managers in west Maui.