Designing urban ports for improved coastal ecosystem services: Lessons learnt for enhancing biodiversity and reducing social-ecological conflicts

Moisés A. Aguilera, Angelo Araya, Ariel Rojas, Leslie Ortiz, Elisabeth M.A. Strain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ports are expanding urban systems worldwide which provide important economic benefits to local economies. But port land reclamation together with infrastructure deployment and operations, produce unprecedented pressure on surrounding coastal ecosystems. Thus, the implementation of effective management strategies to deal with social-environmental conflicts is often required. Only a few studies have addressed the socio-ecological link between port impact on coastal ecosystem services and how this related to social conflicts. Here, we use multidisciplinary research to address these questions considering two ports located in Coquimbo city-port (29°S) in Chile, as our study port-system. Index scores of port impacts on urban natural ecosystem services and the city were calculated from known drivers of decline. Questionnaires were used to identify local citizens’ concerns about port operations and expansion. Our results demonstrated significant pressures from port infrastructure and operations on maritime but also in shoreland coastal ecosystem services, which were perceived as a critical environmental concern by local respondents. There was low knowledge, but positive appreciation, of ecological engineering initiatives in urban environments to rehabilitate ecosystem attributes. Field experiments showed that biodiversity enhancement of port infrastructure is effective, and might be a good initiative to link people with the port. Our results suggest that port industries must engage in more explicit initiatives to compensate for the environmental impacts of the expansion of built infrastructure, resulting in more effective integration of these urban systems with natural ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102886
JournalRegional Studies in Marine Science
Volume60
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Built infrastructure
  • Ecological engineering
  • Ecosystem services
  • Port pressures
  • Urban metabolism

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