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Ecosystem Services for Supporting Coastal and Marine Resources Management, an Example from the Adriatic Sea (Central Mediterranean Sea)


Ecosystem Services (ESs) assessment is increasingly being considered as the constitutive metric to embrace the social, ecological, and economic spheres. Spatially explicit ES assessments can integrate and standardize different types of information making them comparable. In this context, a multiple coastal and marine ES assessment in the Northern-Central Adriatic Sea was carried out, considering seven ESs. Two cultural (tourism and recreational boating), two regulating (carbon sequestration and coastal erosion prevention potential), and three provisioning (mussel, whitefish aquaculture, and industrial fishery) ESs have been measured. Spatial (dis)concordance among them has been measured to suggest sustainable human uses of ecosystems, through ESs capacity, and flow conceptualization. Results show spatial agreement for capacities while contrasting results emerged from the analysis across flows and of the capacity-flow balance. The actual use of ESs (flow) can exceed the ability of ecosystems to potentially generate them (capacity) depleting the Adriatic ES set. The analysis of the relationship between multiple capacity and multiple flow revealed the presence of a geographical pattern and areas of high, medium, and low ability to provide ESs across the study area. This information can be useful in the context of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), and for the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Northern-Central Adriatic Sea.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can Ecosystem Services assessment support the MSP process?

Implementation Context:

In the context of MSPD implementation, EU MSs must go through an MSP process. Considering Ecosystem Services is crucial to providing the best conditions for Blue Economy economical activities to thrive.

Aspects / Objectives:

The study aims to assess seven coastal and marine Ecosystem Services in the Northern-Central part of the Adriatic Sea to contribute to a better management improving the sustainability of Nature management in the area.


To reach this objective the study followed these steps

  1. Assess and map ESs conceptually distinguishing between the capacity to provide ESs and the actual ES flows.
  2. Consider the sum of ES flows and ES capacities to detect areas of high ability to either supply (capacity) or use (flow) the ESs.
  3. Measure the relationships (synergies/trade-offs) among multiple ES flows, multiple ES capacities, and among capacities and flows of the same ES to suggest sustainable management strategies.
  4. Identifying geographical patterns in the different socio-ecological conditions across the Northern-Central Adriatic Sea.

Main Outputs / Results:

This analysis highlights new synergies and trade-offs by including regulating and provisioning services in the same assessment where cultural services are mapped. The analysis emphasised how crucial  Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Services assessments are to reaching MSPD objectives.


This approach is transferable to any sea basin due to the reliance of anthropogenic maritime activities on marine ecosystems.

Responsible Entity:

Universita Ca' Foscari - Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali

Costs / Funding Source:

Universita Ca' Foscari - Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali

Contact person: (laura[dot]basconi[at]unive[dot]it)

Universita Ca' Foscari - Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali