Navigating Coastal Values: Participatory Mapping of Ecosystem Services for Spatial Planning

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Ecological Economics



Publication Date




First Page


Last Page



Monetary values and biophysical features tend to dominate spatial planning data, yet intangible cultural values have a large role to play in decision-making. If left implicit, such considerations may be represented poorly in planning. To foster explicit inclusion of intangible values alongside material values connected to ecosystems, we elicited verbal articulation, spatial identification and quantified marine-related values and threats across the seascape of northern Vancouver Island, Canada. We address: (1) how do our spatial interviews—involving maps and semi-structured interviews—enable and/or impede the elicitation of intangible values? (2) What categories of ecosystem benefits do participants identify as most important? (3) Are spatial distributions of monetary values correlated with non-monetary values and threats? Our findings indicate that (1) while maps were provocative, sizable minorities of interviewees refused to assign different numerical non-monetary values to specific locations (30%), or refused to identify locations of non-monetary importance (16%); (2) people allocated the highest non-monetary values to places notable for wildlife, outdoor recreation, then cultural heritage; and (3) significant pair-wise overlap occurred, but also sizable deviations, among monetary, non-monetary and threat distributions. Despite limitations to representing non-monetary values spatially and quantitatively, these methods offer a straightforward approach to catalog and map ecosystem services to inform spatial planning.

This document is currently not available here.