Conceptualizing the link between marine ecosystem services and human well-being: the case of offshore wind farming


Although the concept of ecosystem services has drawn a prolific amount of recent research, little work has been done on the links between marine ecosystem services and coastal human well-being at a regional scale. Key questions in this context are that of appropriate categories for assessing human well-being and how to link different determinants of human well-being to specific ecosystem services supplied in adjacent marine areas. This paper presents the results of a case study that links tangible and intangible ecosystem benefits to a range of material and immaterial factors constituting human well-being. Determinants of human well-being were defined and indicators selected to make these linkages traceable. Ecosystem services were assessed for the offshore environment along the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, based on the assumption of strong future development of offshore wind farming and considering the environmental and socio-economic impacts of such developments on the coastal region. This paper illustrates some conceptual problems in linking ecosystem benefits to human well-being. Based on an economic analysis and a questionnaire survey, two examples are presented where an evidence-based link could be demonstrated between an ecosystem service impacted by offshore wind farming and change in human well-being. The results presented should be understood as an analytic framework and precondition for gathering empirical data.
QR Code: Link to publication