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


Ecosystem service information in decision-making

Information about ecosystem services and their values can be integrated in decisions on land and water management options, or policy decisions, by using decision-support tools such as cost-benefit analysis, multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA). These tools structure information on management and policy options and their consequences and highlight trade-off s between ecosystem services (e.g. recreation vs. timber production). Facilitation, mediation and dispute resolution methods are helpful in highly conflictual trade-off situations. Overall, ecosystem service knowledge is most effective when decision-makers and key stakeholders have been closely involved in the assessment process to ensure that they find the information relevant and reliable, and are ready act upon it.

Response options for sustaining ecosystem services

Several policy instruments can be used to sustain and enhance the provision of ecosystem services. Information based instruments like education and awareness raising campaigns can influence people’s attitude and behavior, and knowledge transfer and exchange practices can facilitate communication between researchers and decision-makers. Market based instruments such as payments for ecosystem services and offsets create incentives for businesses and citizens to account for ecosystem services. Ecosystem service accounting and indicators can be used to monitor the changes in natural capital and consequent supply of ecosystem services. Regulatory frameworks provide general guidance for sustainable ecosystem management while statutory regulations such as protected areas can be set up to maintain e.g. biodiversity or cultural ecosystem services, or protect ground water and other vital ecosystem services. Land use planning and natural resource management processes like river basin management planning or marine strategic planning can be used to coordinate the allocation of spaces for different purposes, including provisioning of ecosystem services, and creating multi-functional landscapes and blue-green infrastructures. Adaptive management is the key to dealing with the highly complex, uncertain and unpredictable nature of socio-ecological systems. Finally, community partnerships, which rely on local bottom-up initiatives and informal collaboration, can connect diverse actors to sustain local ecosystem services. Sustainable delivery of ecosystem services is usually best achieved when combining different response options.

Nature based solutions

Nature-based solutions (NBS) refer to the innovative application of knowledge about nature, inspired and supported by nature.