Report of the Joint HZG/LOICZ/ICES Workshop: Mapping Cultural Dimensions of Marine Ecosys-tem Services (WKCES)

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Joint HZG/LOICZ/ICES Workshop: Mapping Cultural Dimensions of Ecosystem Services (WKCES), Geesthacht, Germany, 17 – 21 June 2013 Chaired by Andreas Kannen and Kira Gee, brought together 13 participants from 5 nations to discuss ways of increasing the visibility of cultural values in the MSP planning process. The workshop was organ-ised along four main issues which are reflected in the chapters of the report.

a) Codifying and collecting cultural values for MSP purposes

There are various problems with collecting and describing cultural values. One is the absence of universally valid classifications. The word “connection” was used by the workshop as an inclusive descriptor of the many ways that people relate to and value ecosystems. Given the wide range of cultural contexts, and focusing on indigenous cultures as a specific example, a key conclusion is that cultural values cannot be de-fined through pre-set criteria. “What is a cultural value” needs to be defined by the stakeholders, rightsholders and communities of interest within the planning area and in those spatial areas that will experience the impacts of a planned project. This has implications for the planning process.

b) Methods for identifying marine places of socio-cultural importance

“Culturally significant areas” are proposed in analogy to “ecologically significant areas”. To identify an area as culturally significant is to conclude that the area pro-vides cultural services that are critical to the wellbeing and identity of the given community. Criteria for identifying cultural significance include cultural uniqueness, broad cultural/community reliance, importance of the feature to the resilience of the social-ecological system, degree of tradition, and dramatic cultural change. Loca-tion/spatial extent, temporal scale, and the environmental quality required for the cultural feature or practice in question should also be determined. A baseline of cul-tural features or practices of importance is suggested as a basis for planning.

c) Rating impacts on cultural places of importance

Risk assessment identifies vulnerable ecosystem services based on existing and future pressures in the planning area and ascertains the potential of losing a given cultural ecosystem service. The tolerability of the risks in terms of the potential consequence to cultural integrity should be evaluated in collaboration with the community of in-terest. The workshop used pre-agreed risk criteria to draw up a classification of risks as extreme, very high, medium, low and negligible.

d) Mapping spatially relevant information

Mapping cultural ecosystem services is challenging due to their often intangible and varied character. As such there is limited existing evidence of significance and spatial and temporal extent of cultural ecosystem services. However, mapping cultural eco-system services is a powerful tool for grasping the socio-cultural realities of commu-nities, regions, landscapes and ecosystems. Mapping enables localization of critical areas for cultural services management, facilitates better comparison to provisioning and regulating services, and allows consideration of place-based ecological knowledge. The workshop brought together a range of methods that have been used to map cultural ecosystem services and some of the challenges associated with map-ping. 2 | ICES WKCES REPORT 2013
Next steps
Results will be published as a Cooperative Research Report setting out ‘good prac-tice’ suggestions for identifying and mapping culturally significant marine areas. A key recommendation is to expand WGMPCZM to offer a platform for the continued exploration of CES in MSP.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDenmark
PublisherICES CM
Number of pages70
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2013


  • Marine spatial planning
  • cultural ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem-based approach


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