UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Debunking trickle-down ecosystem services : the fallacy of omnipotent, homogeneous beneficiaries Wieland, R.; Ravensbergen, S.; Gregr, Edward J.; Satterfield, Terre; Chan, Kai M. A.


Ecosystem services research broadly assumes that an increased supply of nature’s goods and services will yield increased benefits. We challenge this ‘trickle-down’ assumption by explicitly investigating the factors that might impede ecosystem services yielding benefits to different stakeholder groups, based on a targeted literature review of First Nations' access to shellfish on Canada's Pacific Coast. Our review revealed four sets of barriers to realizing benefits from ecosystem services despite their abundance within many First Nation territories. The barriers highlight problems of access, particularly as driven by geographic location, technical capacity, markets and user conflicts, and management (of harvest and access), all of which limit First Nations’ procuring of resources linked to key services. Our findings demonstrate that simply increasing ecosystem service supply does not necessarily increase benefits for individuals or groups. Realizing the promise that ecosystem services research will enhance human well being through improved management depends on the explicit consideration of how access mediates the distribution of benefits.

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