Ecosystem services – a new Esperanto to facilitate participatory planning processes?

Authors and Affiliations: 

Marcin Spyra - a
Christine Fürst - a
Janina Kleemann - b
Daniel Rozas-Vásquezc
César J. Vázquez Navarrete - d
Igone Palacios Agundez - e
HongMi Koo - b
Paolo Picchi - f
Hannes König - g
Blal Adem Esmail - f
Leena Kopperoinen - h
Nuket Ipek Cetin - i
Daniele La Rosa - j

a) Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg,
b) Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
c) Center for Development Research (ZEF) Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management, University of Bonn
d) The Colegio de Postgraduados
e) University of the Basque Country
f) University of Trento
g) Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg
h) Finnish Environment Insitute SYKE, Helsinki
i) Gebze Technical University
j) University of Catania

Corresponding author: 
Marcin Spyra

Current research indicates that the ecosystem services (ES) framework was not yet systematically enough integrated in planning (Grêt-Regamey, et al., 2016, Kabisch, 2015; Kaczorowska et al., 2015, Wilkinson et al., 2013). Even though first case studies highlight the benefit of ES in supporting the communication between diverse actors, thus providing support in participatory planning processes (Reyers et al., 2010; Schröter et al., 2014). Consequently, we formulate the hypothesis that ES have the potential to be the new “Esperanto” to facilitate the translation of different actor perceptions and objectives into harmonized planning goals.
The objective of our study is to showcase how ES can be made operational to support participatory planning processes and how to learn from successful examples. This research started in the EcoSummit conference 2016 held in Montpellier, France, during a side event titled “Generating practical outputs from ES studies-an interdisciplinary exchange” organized by the authors. The study is based on a survey conducted from October 2016 to January 2017 among a team of researchers and practitioners, who participated in the side event and are currently working with the implementation of the ES concept in participatory planning. We collected eleven case studies, which were characterized according to the planning context, planning scale, ES framework used, participatory planning methodology and practical outcomes obtained from planning. Later each of the case studies underwent an assessment by a standardized balanced score card, which is a matrix with questions related to the risk and advantage of using the ES concept in the participatory planning process, e.g. with regard to knowledge sharing, social networking, shared vision, actor inequality, supply-demand relationships, and the involvement of socio-ecological–economic system aspects into planning (Fürst et al., 2014).
The research method allowed us to objectively detect success or failure criteria in using ES in participatory planning. We plan to subsequently implemented both, characterization of the case studies and balanced score card in an online user guidance tool that helps new-comers in the application of ES in planning to detect most suitable (similar) case studies to experience training by examples. We are going to present this tool and its application opportunities as an additional service in the context of the Thematic Working Group Planning and Management in the Ecosystem Service Partnership.


Fürst, C., Opdam, P., Inostroza, L., & Luque, S. (2014). Evaluating the role of ecosystem services in participatory land use planning: proposing a balanced score card. Landscape Ecology, 29(8), 1435–1446.

Grêt-Regamey, A., Sirén, E., Brunner, S. H., & Weibel, B. (2016). Review of decision support tools to operationalize the ecosystem services concept. Ecosystem Services.

Kabisch, N. (2015). Land Use Policy Ecosystem service implementation and governance challenges in urban green space planning — The case of Berlin , Germany. Land Use Policy, 42, 557–567.

Kaczorowska, A., Kain, J.-H., Kronenberg, J., & Haase, D. (2015). Ecosystem services in urban land use planning: Integration challenges in complex urban settings—Case of Stockholm. Ecosystem Services.

Reyers, B., Roux, D. J., Cowling, R. M., Ginsburg, A. E., Nel, J. L., & Farrell, P. O. (2010). Conservation planning as a transdisciplinary process. Conservation Biology, 24(4), 957–965.

Schröter, B., Sessin-Dilascio, K., Meyer, C., Matzdorf, B., Sattler, C., Meyer, A., … Wortmann, L. (2014). Multi-level governance through adaptive co-management: conflict resolution in a Brazilian state park. Ecological Processes, 3(1), 6.

Wilkinson, C., Sendstad, M., Parnell, S., & Schewenius, M. (2013). Urban Governance of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Oral or poster: 
Oral presentation
Abstract order: