Local and tourist perceptions of coastal marine habitats in Cap de Creus (NE Spain)

Miguel Mallo, Patrizia Ziveri, Sergio Rossi, Victoria Reyes-garcía

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Direct human pressure on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) adds to climate change impacts on marine habitats, especially in coastal biodiversity hot spots. Understanding MPA user perception towards the Coastal marine Habitats (CMHs) could improve awareness of the challenges that such areas have to face, eventually providing insights for the design of conservation and tourism management plans. We studied perception of ecosystem services, impacts and threats of CMHs by locals and tourists (n = 624) of Cap de Creus MPA (NW Mediterranean Sea). Overall, we found that perceptions of tourists and locals are similar. Respondents perceived that CMHs provide valuable regulating services, and they assigned less value to cultural services. Locals valued the food provision ecosystem service of CMHs significantly more than tourists, probably because of the historical importance of fisheries for subsistence. Respondents ranked marine pollution of inland origin, climate change and people’s behaviour towards nature as the most impactful and threatening to CMHs, and invasive marine species as the least. Respondents also perceived that climate change impacts would increase soon, whilst the impact of people’s behaviour towards nature would decrease. Tourists perceived mass tourism as significantly more impactful and threatening to CMHs than locals did. Overall, our study shows that conservation of CMHs is highly valued, so more effort needs to be directed toward this goal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number73
Number of pages14
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2022


  • Anthropogenic pressure
  • Coastal marine habitat
  • Ecosystem services
  • Impact
  • Perception
  • Survey


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