The VALMER project was focused on six case study sites at which the techniques and methods of ecosystem services assessment and its application were tested with a cross section of local stakeholders.
Map of the VALMER Case Study Sites
The heart of the VALMER project
The six case studies were the heart of the VALMER project both in terms of providing a central coordinating focus for the various different work packages, and in exemplifying the project’s general ethos of emphasising the practical application and value of an ecosystem services approach. They were where the project demonstrated not only how an Ecosystem Services Assessment (ESA) has the potential to improve marine management and planning in theory but, crucially, how such an improvement could be achieved in the context of real, site specific, marine management issues.
The choice of case study site
The rationale behind the choice of case study sites was based on a number of criteria. Principal among these was the potential for, or applicability of, an ecosystem services assessment to address an existing marine governance issue. As such, a number of the VALMER partners came to the project with a predetermined sense of what and where they would like to focus their work. For the other case studies, potential sites emerged informed by the knowledge and experience of local coastal and marine habitats and issues held by project partners and their extended stakeholder networks.
After consideration of the relative merits of a number of sites, six were finally chosen: three in southwest England and three in northwest France. These six sites varied in spatial scale, in their governance structures, and in the particular combination of marine management issues that each of them faced. Each case study site was also characterised by a unique assemblage of marine and coastal habitats and ecological processes, which meant that each site provided a subtly different combination of ecosystem services. Taken together these six sites incorporated a broad range of stakeholders, management issues, and ecosystem services. Undertaking an ESA across all sites, therefore, enabled VALMER to trial a range of different methodologies and techniques tailored to specific locations and the ecosystem services they provided.