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Assessing ecosystem services for informing land-use decisions: a problem-oriented approach

Johannes Förster, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department Computational Landscape Ecology, Leipzig, Germany; UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department Environmental Politics, Leipzig, Germany; Institute of Geoscience & Geography, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany
Jan Barkmann, Environmental and Resource Economics, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
Roman Fricke, Faculty of Biology, Department of Animal Ecology, Philipps University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Stefan Hotes, Department of Ecology, Animal Ecology, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Michael Kleyer, Landscape Ecology Group, Institute of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany
Susanne Kobbe, Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation, University of Hamburg, Biocentre Grindel, Hamburg, Germany
Daniel Kübler, Institute for World Forestry, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Christian Rumbaur, Hydrology and River Basin Management, Technische Universität München, München, Germany
Marianna Siegmund-Schultze, Environmental Assessment and Planning Research Group, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Ralf Seppelt, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department Computational Landscape Ecology, Leipzig, Germany; Institute of Geoscience & Geography, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany
Josef Settele, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Community Ecology, Animal Ecology and Social-Ecological Research, Halle, Germany; iDiv - German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Joachim H. Spangenberg, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Community Ecology, Animal Ecology and Social-Ecological Research, Halle, Germany; Sustainable Europe Research Institute SERI Germany, Cologne, Germany
Vera Tekken, Institute for Geography and Geology, Department of Sustainability Science and Applied Geography, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
Tomáš Václavík, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department Computational Landscape Ecology, Leipzig, Germany; Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Heidi Wittmer, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department Environmental Politics, Leipzig, Germany

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07804-200331

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Abstract

Assessments of ecosystem services (ES), that aim at informing decisions on land management, are increasing in number around the globe. Despite selected success stories, evidence for ES information being used in decision making is weak, partly because ES assessments are found to fall short in targeting information needs by decision makers. To improve their applicability in practice, we compared existing concepts of ES assessments with focus on informing land use decisions and identified opportunities for enhancing the relevance of ES assessments for decision making. In a process of codesign, building on experience of four projects in Brazil, China, Madagascar, and Vietnam, we developed a step-wise approach for better targeting ES assessments toward information needs in land use decisions. Our problem-oriented approach aims at (1) structuring ES information according to land use problems identified by stakeholders, (2) targeting context-specific ES information needs by decision makers, and (3) assessing relevant management options. We demonstrate how our approach contributes to making ES assessments more policy relevant and enhances the application of ES assessments as a tool for decision support.

Key words

decision support; ecosystem services assessment; land use; problem-oriented;

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087