Integrating ecosystem services in a strategic participatory planning approach

Authors and Affiliations: 

Leena Karrasch
Ecological Economics
Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Corresponding author: 
Leena Karrasch

Coastal zones with their natural and societal systems are exposed to changes and pressures on various resources. Scarcity of space and impacts of climate change are prominent drivers of land use and adaptation management today. Necessary modifications to present land use management strategies influence both the structures of coastal communities and the ecosystems involved. A challenge for strategic regional planning is the development of sustainable and integrated adaptive management strategies focusing on changing land use and climatic conditions, and taking the multi-dimensional relationships between nature and society into account. There is a need for enhanced knowledge and integrated understanding on the complex interactions in socio-ecological systems to make the concept of ecosystem services relevant and applicable to practical cases (Albert et al, 2016; de Groot et al. 2010; Potschin and Haines-Young, 2013).
The presented strategic planning approach focuses on the integration of ecosystem services in spatial planning processes. Different concepts and tools linking natural and social sciences have been used to develop a vision for future regional development. During a four-year collaboration, decision-makers of the municipality of Krummhörn, an East Frisian low-lying coastal area (north western Germany), and scientists co-developed a participatory adaptive land use planning and assessment methodology aiming to increase the regional adaptive capacity, support ecosystem-based management processes, improve the resilience of the region, and support decision-making processes. A special focus has been on the inclusion of expert-knowledge from the areas of water and coastal management, agriculture, nature conservation, policy, and tourism, to foster discussions and find consensus between the different user interests. Scientific and practical implications of this integrated assessment focus on multi-functional options and contribute to more sustainable practices in future land use planning (Karrasch et al., 2014; Karrasch, 2016; Karrasch and Klenke, 2016).
The application of the ecosystem services concept in a collaborative planning process has been of great success. Since the developed adaptation strategy has been implemented in the formal spatial regional plan of the community (Landkreis Aurich, 2015), it provides a best-practice example of moving from theoretical systems to practical application, from informal to formal, and from scientific knowledge to real-world decision-making.


Albert, C., Galler, C., Hermes, J., Neuendorf, F., Haaren, C.v., Lovett, A., 2016. Applying Ecosystem Services Indicators in Landscape Planning and Management: the ES-in-Planning framework. Ecological Indicators 61(1), 100-113.

De Groot, R.S., Alkemade R., Braat, L., Hein, L., Willemen L., 2010. Challenges in integrating the concept of ecosystem services and values in landscape planning, management and decision making. Ecological Complexity 7(3), 260-272.

Karrasch, L., Klenke, T., Woltjer, J., 2014. Linking the ecosystem services approach to social preferences and needs in integrated coastal land use management. Land Use Policy 38, 522-532.

Karrasch, L., 2016. Matching an ecosystem services approach with social impact assessment. In: Geneletti, D. (ed.), Handbook on biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham, pp. 86-112.

Karrasch, L., Klenke, T., 2016. Aligning local adaptive land use management in coastal regions with European policies on climate adaptation and rural development. In: Grabski-Kieron, U., Mose, I., Steinführer, A., Reichert-Schick, A. (eds.), European rural peripheries revalued. Governance, actors, impacts. Münster et al.: LIT, pp. 296-312.

Landkreis Aurich, 2015. Regionales Raumordnungsprogramm 2015: Begründung (Entwurf). Landkreis Aurich, Aurich.

Potschin, M., Haines-Young, R., 2013. Landscapes, sustainability and the placed-based analysis of ecosystem services. Landscape Ecology 28(6), 1053-1065.

Oral or poster: 
Oral presentation
Abstract order: