The ecosystem service concept’s adding value: What are the effects of different ways of representing ecosystem services for perception and valuation of a river landscape?

Authors and Affiliations: 

Cedric Gapinski, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Herrenhäuser Str. 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany,
Christina von Haaren, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Herrenhäuser Str. 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany,

Corresponding author: 
Cedric Gapinski

As shown by European Biodiversity Strategy 2020, the ecosystem service concept gets a lot of attention in science and policy already. Target 2 claims maintenance and restauration of ecosystem services (ES). An increasing number of papers dealing with mapping and valuing ES have been published so far, but there is still a lack of knowledge concerning the integration of individual benefits as well as those for public and private economy in planning practice. This also applies for explaining such benefits to stakeholders. It is assumed that political decision makers prefer economic to nature conservation arguments, but systematic researches on ES information’s effects are still missing. Also little information is available about acceptance of economic ES arguments by public.
The expression of competing land use interests is a common practice during river restauration projects such as german WWF project “Wilde Mulde”, funded by the Federal Ministries for Environment (BMUB) and for Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). In this case, several stakeholders and inhabitants in the area of Dessau-Roßlau (Saxony-Anhalt) are worrying that planned measures (installation of dead trees in the riverbed, connection of a former river branch, development of a hardwood forest and restoration of a natural river bank) will cause a higher risk of flooding, because people in this catchment area of Elbe and Mulde rivers suffered from extreme flood events.
In this context we investigate, which ways of representing ES information are understood and preferred by different stakeholders and whether the representation of selected ES changes in a quantified and partly monetized way could lead to a higher acceptance of nature conservation objectives. In order to do this, it is primarily important to identify relevant stakeholders and their preferences about the river landscape’s development in the future.
The objective during the first project stage is to analyze on which real interests, moral concepts or strategies stakeholder’s preferences and attitudes towards the measures rely on. For judging this, literature about the legitimation of stakeholder’s claims was examined and the public objectives of the Mulde landscape were collected by analyzing existing plans and programs. Subsequently a list with potential stakeholders was created by evaluating intern project documents, press reports, internet search and brainstorming with project partners. Relevant stakeholders will be chosen by rating attributes like consternation, interest, power, legitimacy and urgency. They will be further analyzed with guided interviews and focus groups. Thereby stakeholder’s worries and expectations are requested as well as their knowledge about the ES concept and their attitude towards including economic benefits of ecosystems in decision-making. First results are expected in summer 2017.


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