Ecosystem service assessments are a top priority at many reserves in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. However, within ecosystems services research, there is a critical gap surrounding the equitable representation of cultural ecosystem services (CES) — one of four main categories of ecosystem services (the others being supporting, provisioning, and regulating services). In collaboration with Reserve partners in Heʻeia and Kachemak Bay, this project aims to advance the equitable representation of CES in estuary stewardship and management within and beyond the NERRS. To do so, the project team implemented an interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach, including the development of informational materials for diverse end users.
About this resource
This report summarizes highlights and key takeaways from an April 2022 Reserve Exchange and Methods Pilot with representatives from the Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve (Hawaiʻi) and the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Alaska). Organized by the project team, the Reserve Exchange and Methods Pilot provided an important setting to exchange knowledge and experiences on the topics of cultural ecosystem services (CES), community engagement, and long-term relationship building to advance estuary research and management. Through a series of activities and facilitated discussions held over the course of three days, the small group shared and compared questions, knowledge, and insights on CES in a peer-to-peer learning environment. Together the group piloted five distinct CES assessment methods (a subset of a longer list of methods distilled by the project team) to begin to evaluate each method’s strengths, weaknesses, and applicability within each reserve. The information provided in this report is not intended as an exhaustive evaluation of CES methods as it is one output from a brief, yet meaningful exchange among a small group from two reserves. This report is, however, intended to serve as a source of inspiration for those who may be interested in implementing CES assessment methods and are seeking information on how to begin.