Effective integration of ecosystem services (ESs) into spatial planning and decision-making processes has been advocated as an opportunity to improve current practices and to promote sustainable development. However, the actual uptake of ecosystem services is still challenging, in part due to the complexity of ES studies, data scarcity, and ES compartmentalization, and so on. This chapter presents a case of mapping and characterizing coastal ecosystem services in a way that deals with these issues in order to facilitate its integration in the decision-making and planning process. It gives an insight into which ESs are currently provided in Ria de Aveiro coastal region (Portugal), how are they distributed in space, and identifies multifunctional areas. We argue that the use of existing and available data, as well as tools and approaches that are similar to those used in spatial planning, notwithstanding its limitations, has the potential for bridging science and decision-making spheres. ES-related information could be thus gradually incorporated in the design of local strategies towards sustainable and transparent planning and management processes.
Part of the book: Ecosystem Services and Global Ecology