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VALMER : Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Western Channel

VALMER is an eleven partner, €4.7 million project co-funded by the INTERREG IV A Channel programme through the European Regional Development Fund, which aims to examine how improved marine ecosystem services assessment can support effective and informed marine management and planning

Exploring the links between ecosystem services assessment (ESA) and effective marine management and governance

The Western Channel is under increasing pressure from a wide range of competing uses and interests; effective and informed management of this shared space is vital to the sustainable use of this valuable resource. We know that ecosystem services assessment has the potential to improve marine management and planning, but to date there have been limited documented cases.

VALMER will therefore explore methodologies that can be used to quantify, qualify and communicate the value (economic, social and environmental) of marine and coastal ecosystem services, and seek to improve understanding of the links between ecosystem services, their valuation, and effective marine management and governance.

An innovative cross-channel collaboration between the marine science and marine governance communities

To achieve these aims and bridge the gap between theory, policy and practice the VALMER project brings together marine science and marine governance communities from both sides of the Western Channel area.  From the eleven project partners (led by Plymouth University) are drawn over sixty individuals with experience and expertise in a variety of academic disciplines and marine and coastal management contexts.

To facilitate such a large scale project VALMER is organized into six distinct but inter-related Work Packages.  Each WP contains a pool of experts whose work is focused on delivering different aspects of the project. At a WP level they will produce a number of specific outputs including academic papers, guidance documents and workshops. Research from all WPs will be integrated and applied at the six case study sites.

Practical applications of marine ecosystem services assessment

Focused around the Western Channel area and the waters of southwest England (Devon, Dorset and Cornwall) and northwest France (Brittany and Normandy), these case studies are a central and integral part of the VALMER project. They enable us to examine a range of different coastal environments and habitats and the ecosystem services that they provide, in the context of real, site specific, marine management issues.

Working alongside key stakeholders, VALMER aims to provide policy-makers with a clearer understanding of the values that can be placed on the marine environment, and how these can be used to make more effective decisions. Its activities will support Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) at a local level to create integrated visions and action programmes. It will also engage local coastal residents to raise awareness of ESA, and how it can be applied at a community level.

Six Case Study Sites

There are six case study sites at which the techniques and methods of ecosystem services assessment and its application will be tested with stakeholders:

  • In the UK:
  1. North Devon
  2. Poole Harbour
  3. Plymouth Sound-Fowey
  • In France:
  1. Golfe Normand-Breton
  2. Parc naturel marin de l'Iroise
  3. Golfe du Morbihan

The French Marine Protected Areas Agency is in charge of coordination for the two following sites: Golfe Normand-Breton and Parc naturel marin de l'Iroise