Stakeholders’ perspectives on the operationalisation of the ecosystem service concept: results from 27 case studies

Jan Dick, Francis Turkelboom, Helen Woods, Irene Iniesta-Arandia, Eeva Primmer, Sanna Riikka Saarela, Peter Bezák, Peter Mederly, Michael Leone, Wim Verheyden, Eszter Kelemen, Jennifer Hauck, Chris Andrews, Paula Antunes, Réka Aszalós, Francesc Baró, David N. Barton, Pam Berry, Rob Bugter, Laurence CarvalhoBálint Czúcz, Rob Dunford, Gemma Garcia Blanco, Nicoleta Geamănă, Relu Giucă, Bruna Grizzetti, Zita Izakovičová, Miklós Kertész, Leena Kopperoinen, Johannes Langemeyer, David Montenegro Lapola, Camino Liquete, Sandra Luque, Guillermo Martínez Pastur, Berta Martin-Lopez, Raktima Mukhopadhyay, Jari Niemela, David Odee, Pablo Luis Peri, Patricia Pinho, Gleiciani Bürger Patrício-Roberto, Elena Preda, Joerg Priess, Christine Röckmann, Rui Santos, Diana Silaghi, Ron Smith, Angheluţă Vădineanu, Jan Tjalling van der Wal, Ildikó Arany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


The ecosystem service (ES) concept is becoming mainstream in policy and planning, but operational influence on practice is seldom reported. Here, we report the practitioners’ perspectives on the practical implementation of the ES concept in 27 case studies. A standardised anonymous survey (n = 246), was used, focusing on the science-practice interaction process, perceived impact and expected use of the case study assessments. Operationalisation of the concept was shown to achieve a gradual change in practices: 13% of the case studies reported a change in action (e.g. management or policy change), and a further 40% anticipated that a change would result from the work. To a large extent the impact was attributed to a well conducted science-practice interaction process (>70%). The main reported advantages of the concept included: increased concept awareness and communication; enhanced participation and collaboration; production of comprehensive science-based knowledge; and production of spatially referenced knowledge for input to planning (91% indicated they had acquired new knowledge). The limitations were mostly case-specific and centred on methodology, data, and challenges with result implementation. The survey highlighted the crucial role of communication, participation and collaboration across different stakeholders, to implement the ES concept and enhance the democratisation of nature and landscape planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-565
Number of pages14
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Ecosystem services operationalisation
  • Evaluation
  • Place-based implementation
  • Stakeholder perceptions

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