Category:Articles by Delaney, Alyne

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Cultural Value Variation Valuation studies of biodiversity are full of complexity: how to define biodiversity, talk about it, and value it is difficult. One way to do so is to come at biodiversity through the Ecosystem Approach (EA) to the management of natural resources. Since first applied in a policy context at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the EA is on the rise in European and worldwide management [1]. However, including social, economic, and environmental aspects into one method is extremely difficult and fraught with problems and limited success. One method which has been used is the good and services approach. “Assessing ecological processes and resources in terms of the goods and services they provide translates the complexity of the environment into a series of functions which can be more readily understood,” especially for policy makers and non-scientists”[2].

“The full value of ecosystems and landscapes cannot be realized without recognizing the intrinsic values of ecosystem functions and their intimacy to human life.”[3] Given such growing recognition, the number of cultural valuation studies continues to grow. Until this point, however, studies on marine topics have primarily focused on either specialist or charismatic habitats such as coral-reefs (e.g. Cesar and Beukering 2004; Spash 2002)[4], or on the economic valuation of biodiversity (e.g. Ruitenbeek and Cartier 1999)[5]. These studies are indicative of a paradigm shift towards more economic means of modeling value and diversity. More relevantly, they show that sociocultural valuation presents a more difficult and even more pressing task as indicators for sociocultural valuation of marine biodiversity have neither been developed nor tested.[6] Sociocultural valuation is distinct from economic importance and economic valuation.

For the cultural valuation of marine biodiversity in Europe in MarBEF[1] [link], q-method was used to elicit data concerning the relationship between marine biodiversity and ecosystem goods and services[7]. At the moment, there is no single, agreed-upon methodology for sociocultural valuation studies of biodiversity. The need exists, however, to experiment with additional methods such as participatory resource appraisal, multi criteria analysis,[8] and q-method which may elicit the importance of cultural values. Knowing the cultural and social valuation of biodiversity is key for effective strategies for biodiversity conservation to be developed, and in doing so, ensuring healthy ecosystem functioning. Using a sociocultural lens on the effort to preserve marine biodiversity enables management policies to draw on diverse epistemologies, and engage with all stakeholders in meaningful and transparent dialogues. “Science can help ensure that decisions are made with the best available information, but ultimately, the future of biodiversity will be determined by society” (MA 2005, in Verschuuren 2006)[9].

Cultural valuation links closely and draws upon cultural heritage and identityas the provision of food and employment is intrinsically linked with the support of cultural and spiritual traditions associated with, for example, fishing communities.


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[1]Laffoley, D., Maltby, E., Vincent, M.A., Mee, L., Dunn, E., Gilliland, P., Hamer, J.P., Mortimer, D., Pound, D., 2004. “The Ecosystem Approach. Coherent actions for marine and coastal environments. A report to the UK government.” Peterborough, English Nature. 65 pp.

[2]Beaumont, N.J., M.C. Austen, J.P. Atkins, D. Burdon, S. Degraer d, T.P. Dentinho, S. Derous, P. Holm, T. Horton, E. van Ierland, A.H. Marboe, D.J. Starkey, M. Townsend, T. Zarzycki, 2007. “Identification, definition and quantification of goods and services provided by marine biodiversity: Implications for the ecosystem approach.” Marine Pollution Bulletin 54 (2007) 253–265.

[3] Verschurren, B. n.d. on website: Accessed February 2009.

[4]Cesar, H.S. and Beukering, P.v. 2004. “Economic Valuation of the Coral Reefs of Hawai'i” Pacific Science Vol 58, No 2, April 2004, pp. 231-242

[5] Spash, Clive L. 2002. “Informing and forming preferences in environmental valuation: Coral reef biodiversity.” Journal of Economic Psychology, Volume 23, Issue 5, October 2002, p 665-687.

[6] Ruitenbeek, J. and C. Cartier. 1999. Issues in Applied Coral Reef Biodiversity Valuation: Results for Montego Bay, Jamaica. World Bank Research Committee Project RPO# 682-22. "Marine System Valuation: An Application to Coral Reef Systems in the Developing Tropics." Final Report, March 1999.

[7] Delaney, Meek, and Marchioni n.d. “Methods in the Sociocultural Valuation of Marine Biodiversity: Perspectives and Implications from the Isles of Scilly.” In process. Draft available upon request. ad @ ifm.aau . dk

[8] Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.

[9] Verschuuren, B. 2006. “An Overview of Cultural and Spiritual Values in Ecosystem Management and Conservation Strategies.” Foundation for Sustainable Development, the Netherlands. 01.11.2006, version 3.

Pages in category "Articles by Delaney, Alyne"

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