Found in translation: identifying ecosystem services through public consultation statements in a marine spatial planning process
There has been a widespread push to incorporate ecosystem services (ES) in research and policy-making, yet ES have remained an expert-driven discourse not well integrated into hands-on planning and management, particularly at the more local levels. We carry out a retrospective investigation of an inter-municipal marine spatial planning (MSP) process in Northern Norway, where the allocation of new aquaculture locations was a core issue. At this local/regional scale, the concept of ES is hardly known. Thus, our approach is to investigate the documents of public consultation, where different stakeholders operating at different scales respond to the proposed planning document. By analyzing and ‘translating’ the consultation statements into the ES nomenclature, we find a rich and diverse basis for ES identification especially at the local level and within cultural and supporting services. More than 208 different ecosystem services were identified, two-thirds of the total number of services at the local scale. This supports the debate in the ES-science community, which has suggested greater inclusion of plural and context-specific perspectives on people’s relationship to the environment. Our findings show that by doing so in MSP, municipal coastal planners may obtain tools that strengthen local democracy and include greater ES diversity and sustainability.