Ecosystem services are benefits that people derive from the natural world, and the Frenchman Bay Partners has been engaging community members in conversations about the benefits we all derive from our connections to Frenchman Bay. Identifying and prioritizing these attributes can inform management decisions. Participants have also been engaged in helping create a computer-based Ecosystem Services Value (ESValue) decision support tool for Frenchman Bay.
In November of 2014, two events were held in the Bar Harbor Community, engaging 52 people in discussion and building the support tool. On June 2, 2015, 29 people, including facilitators from Cardno-Entrix, the University of Maine, and MDI Biological Laboratory, attended a business stakeholder meeting on the Hancock side of Frenchman Bay. Business representation included vacation rental companies, non-profit organizations, outdoor adventure companies, and sustainable harvesting companies.
Attendees were split into two focus groups at the June event: aquatic ecosystem services and terrestrial ecosystem services. Each group was presented with four metrics for ecosystem services that represented both good and bad outcomes. Together, each group was guided through 16 different trade-off scenarios where they had to assign preference scores to each scenario. The scores were decided upon by the group after discussion. Scores were entered into the ESV decision support tool, which calculated group priorities. Priorities were shared out in pie charts that reveal group results.
Both November groups prioritized local businesses as primary beneficiaries of ecosystem services, freshwater wetlands as the most important terrestrial ecosystem service, and harvesting marine resouces as the most important ecosystem service provided by Frenchman Bay. The June group prioritized forest buffers along streams as the most important terrestrial ecosystem service, and marine biodiversity as the most important ecosystem service provided by Frenchman Bay. The June group did not discuss beneficiaries. All three stakeholder groups gave top priority to the same two “slices of the pie” for terrestrial ecosystem services (forested buffers and freshwater wetlands). For aquatic ecosystem services, marine harvesting, marine biodiversity, and water quality were the most important for all three groups.
We are working to develop an online version of the ESValue tool development exercise; recruit additional stakeholders who may be interested in our process and contribute to on-going development of the tool; and apply the ESValue tool to a real world situation as a case study.