Blue Atlantic Ecosystem Services

Blue Atlantic Project

The project aims to assess Cultural Ecosystem Services regarding recreation values in subaquatic environments through a framework for collaborative management reflecting environmentally responsible practices within the Scuba Diving activities. 

The project is part of the DOMAR PhD program in Marine Science Technology and Management, funded by the Portuguese National Funding Agency for Science, Research and Technology (FCT)  research grant.


Case Studies
Diving Centers




  • Reserve
  • Geography
  • Authorities
  • Info
  • National Natural Park: 1980
  • ZEPA ES0000001: Illes Cies: 1988
  • LIC ES0000001: Illes Cíes: 2004
  • Surface Area: 3,091 Hectares
  • Terrestrial Area: 433 ha
  • Marine Area: 2,658 ha

The Cíes Islands–Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park includes the four archipelagos (Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada) and all the maritime area around them. It is a National Park recognized in 1980 and declared by Spanish law in 2002 (Ley 15/2002, 1st July) located on the Atlantic coast of the NW of the Iberian Peninsula (Galicia, Spain)  (UNESCO, 2019).

The Park is included in many international networks, from regional to European level (Natura 2000 Network: Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area for Birds) and global level (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, ‘OSPAR’ Convention).

The surface area of the National Park amounts to 8,480 ha, of which 86% are occupied by marine ecosystems, while the 14% remaining (1,195 ha) corresponds to land above sea level. Therefore, it includes three main types of ecological environments (marine, coast and land), as well as unique examples of various types of habitats and species of interest for the conservation of biodiversity. In this context this area was classified as of Outstanding Universal Value.

This National Park, including our study area Cíes islands,  is currently creating the candidature to be included in the World Network of Biosphere reserves of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) from UNESCO.



  • Reserve
  • Geography
  • Authorities
  • Info
  • National Natural Reserve: 1981
  • Biosphere Reserve - MAB/UNESCO: 2011
  • Surface Area: 18502,3 ha
  • Core area: 18.8 ha
  • Buffer zone: 859,1 ha
  • Transition area: 17624,4 ha
  • Altitudinal range: 0 to 94 m.

The greatest depth below the average sea level is 520 m (Berlenga island)

The Berlengas Biosphere Reserve includes a group of small islands and rocks, and the city of Peniche on the mainland. It is a Natural Reserve since 1981 (DL. Nº 264/81 de 3 de Setembro), included in the World Network of Biosphere reserves of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) from UNESCO, since 2011.

The archipelago includes a group of islands and coastal reefs situated 5.7 miles of the mainland. The islands are divided in three groups: Berlenga Island and associated reefs, Farilhões and Estelas. This natural area is characterized by presenting mainly herbaceous vegetation, mostly constituted by rocky cliffs partially covered by vegetation that plays an important role in the shelter of nesting colonies of seabirds.

Most of the economic development of the Peniche city is based on tourism, fishing and associated activities, where scuba diving is one important Cultural Ecosystem Service in the reserve.

A large number of management plans have been implemented in the reserve since it was recognized as a biosphere reserve and is currently under the management of the Permanent Working Group of the Berlengas Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO MAB, 2019). 

Research Plan


  • 00Days
  • 00Hours
Task 1 - Elaboration of a Systematic Review
Task 2 - Identifying key CES
Task 3 - Define stakeholder profiles, Management and divers profiles
Task 4 - Pluralistic valuation (monetary and non monetary) of key CES
Task 5 - Create and validate a observational instrument
Task 6 - Assess of the current practices in Scuba Diving