There has been increasing international effort to better understand the diversity and quality of marine natural capital, ecosystem services and their associated societal benefits. However, there is an evidence gap as to how these benefits are identified at the local scale, where benefits are provided and to whom, trade-offs in development decisions, and understanding how benefits support well-being. Often the benefits of conservation are poorly understood at the local scale, are not effectively integrated into policy and are rarely included meaningfully in public discourse. This paper addresses this disjuncture and responds to the demand for improving dialogue with local communities and stakeholders. Participatory GIS mapping is used as a direct means of co-producing knowledge with stakeholder and community interests. This paper drives a shift from development of participatory approaches to adaptive applications in real-world case studies of local, national and international policy relevance. The results from four sites along the UK North Sea coast are presented. This paper showcases a robust stakeholder-driven approach that can be used to inform marine planning, conservation management and coastal development. Although the demonstration sites are UK-focused, the methodology presented is of global significance and can be applied across spatial and temporal scales.