In 2018 MSDS Marine were commissioned by Historic England to undertake a project which would explore how the heritage sector could engage with the increasingly influential Ecosystems Services and Natural Capital assessments. Supported by Carcinus Ltd who provided ecological expertise, we developed a methodology for integrating the historic environment within these assessments, and applied the method in a pilot study which focused on wrecks in coastal and marine ecosystems.
Our methodology and pilot study advocated the importance of stakeholder involvement throughout the process, woven into a series of steps. These steps began with desk-based research and surveys of the natural and historic environment, leading to a consideration of the relationship between cultural and natural heritage and the identification of ecosystems services arising from heritage sites. We then considered the different scales of assessment to determine which sites give rise to which services, and what factors affect whether a wreck site presents, for example, a suitable fishing or diving location, therefore giving rise to provisioning or recreational ecosystem services. Consideration of the social and economic value of sites then followed.
The project would not have been possible without the willing participation of members of the local community, local, regional and national organisations and other stakeholders. Together, we carried out intertidal surveys which included training in ecological and archaeological recording techniques, ran a photo competition, and invited input through questionnaires and open discussions.
The photos below show ecological training during the intertidal surveys, and some of the wreck sites we recorded.