People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Coral reef ecosystem services: investigating access and equity


Thursday, Dec 6th 2018, 13:00 to 14:00 hrs (AEST)

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room 106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Jacqui Lau
Jacqui Lau


Coral reefs are crucial to the wellbeing of millions of people in developing countries, who depend directly on reef ecosystem services for their livelihoods. Yet, while research ecosystem services is growing, studies often miss how and why people gain access to these benefits and what people themselves consider fair; both crucial complements of ethical and effective conservation. Through case studies in Papua New Guinea, I investigate how different people ascribe importance to coastal ecosystem services; which the social, economic and cultural factors that influence access to ecosystem services; and what resource users themselves consider fair. I find that people ascribe most importance to ecosystem services that directly support their material needs, that numerous factors that shape access and that these change for different people (e.g. women, young men), and that, in certain cases, conflict may be useful for negotiating what are fair costs and benefits from reef management. Overall, my thesis demonstrates the need to account for local perceptions of ecosystem services, and fairness.



Jacqui is originally from Melbourne but has steadily migrated north, first to study sociology at the Australian National University in Canberra, then to the UK, where she completed an MPhil in Environment, Society and Development in 2014. During her MPhil she studied the role of identity in an artisanal oyster fishery in The Gambia, which inspired her to begin her PhD at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, investigating conservation and development in coastal communities. Under the supervision of Prof. Joshua Cinner, Dr. Georgina Gurney, and Prof. Christina Hicks, her PhD investigates ecosystem services, access and equity in coastal communities in Papua New Guinea.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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