What is it?
Socio-cultural valuation highlights the perspectives and the values of stakeholders (insiders) on biodiversity. The goals of such studies are to discover what aspects of marine biodiversity are important to the people, to whom it’s important. Furthermore it aims to discover how important and for what reason. An approach was developed to determine what aspects of biodiversity actually mattered locally. Such an approach can be crucial for developing effective strategies for the conservation of biodiversity through the inclusion of stakeholders in the decision-making process.
More information on public participation:
- Eight levels of public participation
- Introduction of public participation
- Public participation survey
- The state of the art of public participation in Europe
- Why public participation is needed in ICZM
MarBEF researchers undertook the socio-cultural valuation of marine biodiversity in the Isles of Scilly in the UK, and it is currently being applied in the Azores, the Guadiana Estuary and the Ria Formosa in Portugal. Four main perspectives were delineated in the Isles of Scilly case study:
The Management Perspective, where the implementation and enforcement of regulations related to fisheries and protected area management are considered important, given that species are diminishing.
The Contingent Value Perspective, whereby value is seen through contingency – for example, an environmental disaster such as an oil spill; the biodiversity valued overall is intrinsic.
The Future Policy Perspective, whereby management policies are important and even more management is felt to be needed, despite the fact they do not view species as diminishing now.
The Goods and Services Perspective: a holistic viewpoint whereby the goods and services, (cultural heritage, fisheries, etc), and the production values of biodiversity are emphasised.
The socio-cultural perspectives show some agreement among stakeholders of different backgrounds and could provide vital information to formulate consensus and acceptable management measures. For example, there was consensus among stakeholders of groups which would sometimes be considered adversaries (e.g., fishers and environmentalists). The group that has been traditionally considered “anti-management”, namely fishers, is actually in favour of stronger management measures.
In a remote, coastal location such as the Isles of Scilly, there is a tension between the needs of employment and the protection of the environment. This study however shows that this is not a black-and-white issue. Overall, stakeholders value a traditional way of life and do not want it to change; one way to reach this goal is to regulate the environment and protect marine biodiversity properly. 
- Heip, C., Hummel, H., van Avesaath, P., Appeltans, W., Arvanitidis, C., Aspden, R., Austen, M., Boero, F., Bouma, TJ., Boxshall, G., Buchholz, F., Crowe, T., Delaney, A., Deprez, T., Emblow, C., Feral, JP., Gasol, JM., Gooday, A., Harder, J., Ianora, A., Kraberg, A., Mackenzie, B., Ojaveer, H., Paterson, D., Rumohr, H., Schiedek, D., Sokolowski, A., Somerfield, P., Sousa Pinto, I., Vincx, M., Węsławski, JM., Nash, R. (2009). Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning. Printbase, Dublin, Ireland ISSN 2009-2539