Use this tool to break down the ecosystem service assessment process into a logical sequence of steps.

Each step provide you with the objective, the expected outcome as well as resources, illustrative real world cases and tools & methods.

Outcomes of this stage


What are the links between the ecosystem and the services it provides?

Ecosystem services are produced by multiple components of the natural environment such as species, freshwater, land, soil and ecosystem processes such as nutrient uptake. To manage ecosystem services effectively it is often important to understand the relationships between these components. For example, the area of a forest is important for flood protection, whilst species abundance and functional diversity are important for pollination. It is also important to foresee the thresholds, or tipping points, at which an ecological system experiences a major and possibly irreversible change’ to the bottom of the first paragraph.

Approaches to biophysical assessment

There are a wide range of methods for assessing ecosystem service provision. Which is most appropriate for your case will depend on several factors, such as the decision context (e.g. do you need to understand the underlying biophysical processes or test alternative scenarios), data availability, time resources, and types of outputs (e.g. single site or maps). Ecosystem service mapping: such techniques can be useful if you are interested in exploring the spatial distribution of ecosystem services. Ecosystem service modelling: such techniques can be useful if you are interested in evaluating the biophysical variables that underpin the supply and demand of ecosystem services as well as exploring alternative management or future scenarios.

Biophysical trade-offs between ecosystem services

A single ecosystem or parcel of land can provide numerous ecosystem services. To manage the land effectively it is often important to understand the synergies and trade-offs that may exist between different ecosystem services. For example: harvesting forests for timber has a negative impact on atmospheric regulation, water flow regulation and landscape aesthetics.