Incorporation of Socio-Economic Features' Ranking in Multicriteria Analysis Based on Ecosystem Services for Marine Protected Area Planning

Developed decades ago for spatial choice problems related to zoning in the urban planning field, multicriteria analysis (MCA) has more recently been applied to environmental conflicts and presented in several documented cases for the creation of protected area management plans. Its application is considered here for the development of zoning as part of a proposed marine protected area management plan. The case study incorporates specially-explicit conservation features while considering stakeholder preferences, expert opinion and characteristics of data quality. It involves the weighting of criteria using a modified analytical hierarchy process. Experts ranked physical attributes which include socio-economically valued physical features. The parameters used for the ranking of (physical) attributes important for socio-economic reasons are derived from the field of ecosystem services assessment. Inclusion of these feature values results in protection that emphasizes those areas closest to shore, most likely because of accessibility and familiarity parameters and because of data biases. Therefore, other spatial conservation prioritization methods should be considered to supplement the MCA and efforts should be made to improve data about ecosystem service values farther from shore. Otherwise, the MCA method allows incorporation of expert and stakeholder preferences and ecosystem services values while maintaining the advantages of simplicity and clarity.