Monday 5
Participatory conservation
Christophe Le Page
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› Centre du Scamandre Vauvert
Modelling ecosystem services to support conservation of seagrass meadows
Johanna Ballé-Béganton  1, *@  , Denis Bailly  1, *@  , Manuelle Philippe  1@  , Bérengère Angst  1@  , Michel Lample  1@  , Monique Cassé  2@  , Juliette Herry  2@  , Ronan Pasco  2@  , Matthias Urien  2@  
1 : Unité Mixte de Recherche - Centre de droit et d'économie de la mer  (UMR AMURE)  -  Website
Université de Brest
12 rue du Kergoat, CS 93837, 29238 Brest Cedex 3 -  France
2 : Syndicat Intercommunal d'Aménagement du Golfe du Morbihan  (SIAGM)  -  Website
8 boulevard des îles, 56000 Vannes -  France
* : Corresponding author

The project VALMER, funded by the European Regional Development Fund under INTERREG IVA France-England, aims to demonstrate the potential of ecosystem services assessment to foster coastal ecosystem resilience through effective marine governance. Amongst the six VALMER study sites, the Intercommunal Syndicate for the management of the Gulf of Morbihan (SIAGM, Southern Brittany, France) and the University of Brest have engaged in a partnership to test how the integration of ecosystem services under a System Approach Framework can support the development of effective management for seagrass meadows conservation. This work explores how the ecosystem services framework can help structure a co-constructed systemic view of a coastal social and ecological system under a participatory process.

The seagrass meadows offer a high number of ecosystem services: habitat and nursery for numerous species; a high level of biodiversity; regulation of turbidity and nitrogen run-off; and sediment stabilisation; grazing grounds for protected migrating birds and also an important role in carbon sequestration. Because of their favoured grounds, the intertidal and near shore areas, the seagrass meadows are under pressure from numerous commercial and recreational activities. As cases of seagrass bed degradation and losses have been reported worldwide, the conservation of these marine flowering plants has been targeted by international conventions and European regulations in the last decades: OSPAR in 1998, Natura 2000 sites under European Birds and Habitat Directives and Bern Convention in 1979. Seagrass science has grown but public awareness level stays low.

The numerous and diverse users of the Gulf of Morbihan's waters - leisure sailors, bird watchers, shellfish farmers, recreational and professional fishermen and shellfishers, ... - have little knowledge of the two species present in the Gulf's waters : Zostera marina and Zostera noltii and of their many ecosystem functions. In 2006, the State administration has taken strong measures to protect the Gulf's seagrass meadows under the local marine management plan (SMVM), providing a legal framework to forbid renewal oyster farming leases or boat moorings and clam dredging where seagrass is present, and to prescribe restricted areas and limited fishing and shellfishing activities part of the year.

The first stages of the project showed that although seagrass science is extensive, it does not address most of the interactions with uses like shellfish farming or boat moorings. And because of the top-down process, there is no ownership by stakeholders of the need to protect seagrass meadows except from bird conservation groups. Given the complexity of the interactions, a knowledge integration platform has been developed with the ExtendSim software to represent the system network of interactions according to the ecosystem services framework. The platform allows a hierarchical organisation of interdisciplinary scientific and local knowledge with varied formats from interactive graphics to conceptual models and narratives as well as links to relevant documentation and websites. The platform is co-constructed with local managers and stakeholders through meetings and workshops. Through this participatory process, we test the added value and some of the limitations of the ecosystem services representation for social-ecological system modelling and integrated assessment.

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