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Stakeholder perceptions of ecosystem service declines in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea: Is human population a more critical driver than climate change?


  • Butler, J.R.A.
  • Skewes, T.
  • Mitchell, D.
  • Pontio, M.
  • Hills, T.


Milne Bay Province (MBP) in Papua New Guinea is a priority seascape in the Coral Triangle marine biodiversity hotspot. Goal 4 of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security promotes adaptation planning for small island ecosystems and communities threatened by climate change, but information to identify vulnerable islands and priority interventions is limited. This study adapted the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) framework in MBP with regional stakeholders to project trends in harvested or cultivated ‘provisioning’ ecosystem goods and services (EGS), human well-being, drivers of change and necessary management strategies, based on their tacit knowledge. In 2010 five island subregions which are susceptible to food insecurity were assessed. Workshop participants identified freshwater, garden food crops, coral, bêche-de-mer, reef fish and sharks as the most important EGS in all subregions. Terrestrial EGS contributed 43% of aggregated ecosystem-derived well-being, and marine EGS 57%. By 2030 the overall condition of EGS was projected to decline by >50%. The primary driver in all subregions was human population growth, and climate change impacts were predicted in only two subregions. Improved garden and agricultural productivity and population control were the highest ranked management strategies. Population relocation was also prioritised for two subregions where human carrying capacities may soon be exceeded. Although none of the strategies addressed climate change directly, all could yield climate adaptation and marine conservation co-benefits by enhancing ecosystem-based adaptation and community adaptive capacity. It is suggested that there is a 20–30 year ‘adaptation window’ in which to address population growth, which otherwise will continue to erode the capacity of communities and ecosystems to cope with potentially extreme climate impacts after mid-century.

Suggested Citation

  • Butler, J.R.A. & Skewes, T. & Mitchell, D. & Pontio, M. & Hills, T., 2014. "Stakeholder perceptions of ecosystem service declines in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea: Is human population a more critical driver than climate change?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-13.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:46:y:2014:i:c:p:1-13
    DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2013.12.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wood, Apanie L. & Butler, James R.A. & Sheaves, Marcus & Wani, Jacob, 2013. "Sport fisheries: Opportunities and challenges for diversifying coastal livelihoods in the Pacific," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 305-314.
    2. Foale, Simon & Adhuri, Dedi & Aliño, Porfiro & Allison, Edward H. & Andrew, Neil & Cohen, Philippa & Evans, Louisa & Fabinyi, Michael & Fidelman, Pedro & Gregory, Christopher & Stacey, Natasha & Tanze, 2013. "Food security and the Coral Triangle Initiative," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 174-183.
    3. ., 2006. "Vulnerability and Coping," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Development Studies, chapter 127 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Hein, Lars & van Koppen, Kris & de Groot, Rudolf S. & van Ierland, Ekko C., 2006. "Spatial scales, stakeholders and the valuation of ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 209-228, May.
    5. Badjeck, Marie-Caroline & Allison, Edward H. & Halls, Ashley S. & Dulvy, Nicholas K., 2010. "Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 375-383, May.
    6. World Bank, 2009. "Convenient Solutions to an Inconvenient Truth : Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change," World Bank Other Operational Studies 3062, The World Bank.
    7. Butler, James R.A. & Middlemas, Stuart J. & Graham, Isla M. & Harris, Robert N., 2011. "Perceptions and costs of seal impacts on Atlantic salmon fisheries in the Moray Firth, Scotland: Implications for the adaptive co-management of seal-fishery conflict," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 317-323, May.
    8. Bell, Johann D. & Kronen, Mecki & Vunisea, Aliti & Nash, Warwick J. & Keeble, Gregory & Demmke, Andreas & Pontifex, Scott & Andréfouët, Serge, 2009. "Planning the use of fish for food security in the Pacific," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 64-76, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Foran, Tira & Butler, James R.A. & Williams, Liana J. & Wanjura, Wolf J. & Hall, Andy & Carter, Lucy & Carberry, Peter S., 2014. "Taking Complexity in Food Systems Seriously: An Interdisciplinary Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 85-101.


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