Social systems and ecosystem services databases launched

Share research with new databases on human interactions with the ocean and cultural marine and coastal ecosystem services.
Published: 30 May 2018

​​​Two new knowledge repositories have been set up: one on social transformations of marine social-ecological systems (SES) and the other on marine and coastal cultural ecosystem services (ES). Developed by ICES Working Group on Resilience and Marine Ecosystem Services (WGRMES), the databases contain case studies and are available for researchers to contribute their work to and use in scientific dissemination.

Social changes

Facing challenges in marine change and sustainability requires a better understanding of how real and enduring social transformation happens and how it can be initiated or promoted.

The social transformations database was developed through an ICES Science Fund project of the same name. It is a hub of information on the different human uses of and impacts on the oceans – as well as the environmental, institutional, economic and financial drivers for these. It is the first attempt to standardize these drivers and document social changes over time, in small-scale and industrial fisheries as well as aquaculture. The open-source database provides resources for students, researchers, and fisheries managers as well as representatives of the marine sectors.

Ecosystem services

The second repository contains information on marine and coastal cultural ecosystem services (ES). A subset of ecosystem services, these cultural services range from activities like tourism and recreation to more intangible ones such as spiritual and aesthetic benefits humans derive from interacting with the ocean.

The objective of the database is threefold: to analyse the state of research on these ecosystem services, identify knowledge gaps, and identify research priorities and pinpoint the way forward. Its case studies are linked through variables such as ecosystem service categories, quantifying indicators, synergies and trade-offs, and countries conducting the studies.

Global reach

“The plan is that this can be an active repository to enrich our knowledge about the social dimension of the oceans in order to help policy makers to take into account humans in coastal policies. We are collecting case studies not only in Europe but around the world and have already been gaining interest from colleagues outside of Europe," said Sebastián Villasante, founder and co-chair of the WGRMES.   

“We welcome people from the ICES and global science community to contribute to the database with aim of growing it as much as possible."

To contribute to the social transformations repository, there is a template available, or you can contact Sebastián Villasante. For the cultural ecosystem services repository, contact Sebastián Villasante or​​​​ Joao Garcia Rodrigues.

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Photos - left:,. top right: Olivier Dugornay, Ifremer; bottom right: Gonzalo Macho.

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Social systems and ecosystem services databases launched

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