How to utilise the ecosystem services concept for more integrated marine infrastructure project assessments?


The Ecosystem Services (ES) concept is much debated by scientists and researchers across the globe. The theoretical importance of the ES concept has gained good recognition but the concept still needs to be applied in practice. To proof the concept’s value and its practical use, it is necessary to apply it on real life examples. The dredging industry is one of the first industries to have recognised the benefits of the ecosystem services approach in project evaluation and assessment. An ES evaluation enables an integrated and balanced comparison of the impact of human actions or project alternatives. This will help to assess whether one human action has more or less effects on the ecosystem, different stakeholders and society in general. Monetary valuation of ES is useful to make a full environmental cost-benefit analysis and weigh the investment costs with environmental and socio-economic benefits. Furthermore, monetary valuation makes it easier to compare various ecosystem services such as flood protection, blue carbon, water quality regulation in a project that also makes it appealing to various stakeholders.
The ES approach also facilitates scenario analyses in an easy way. Different project locations and different project designs or project execution methods have different impacts on the provided ecosystem services. An ES assessment can help towards an objective evaluation of the impacts which provide a good support in the decision-making process on where and to what extent impacts might be compensated or mitigated. One cannot depend on only the ES evaluation in these kinds of decisions, but it provides a tool to have a discussion based on facts and figures. This will definitely increase the support amongst stakeholders and a better decision-making process regarding a project.


Follow this webinar to learn all about the ecosystem services concept and its application in marine infrastructure projects such as a new container terminal, a mega beach nourishment and the construction of a flood control area.


Previous knowledge is not required.


The speaker, Dr. Annelies Boerema, is a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Group Ecosystem Management of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Her research focusses on biophysical and economic evaluation of ecosystem services to assess the impact of ecosystem management, with an emphasis on estuaries. She obtained her Master’s degree in business engineering and a Master’s degree and Doctoral degree in environmental science at the University of Antwerp.


Click here to download the presentation (PDF).