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Do You Have 5 Minutes To Spare? – The Challenges Of Stakeholder Processes In Ecosystem Services Studies

Landscape Online | Volume 37 | 2014 | Pages: 1-25| DOI:10.3097/LO.201437 | Published: October 2nd, 2014


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Do You Have 5 Minutes To Spare? – The Challenges Of Stakeholder Processes In Ecosystem Services Studies

Lars Koschke1, Suzanne Van der Meulen2, Susanne Frank1,5, Anna Schneidergruber3, Marion Kruse4, Christine Fürst5, Esther Neubert1, Bettina Ohnesorge6, Claudia Schröder7, Felix Müller4, Olaf Bastian8

1 Dresden University of Technology, Department of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Pienner Str.19, 01737 Tharandt

2 Deltares, Ecosystem Services research group, Postbus 85467, 3508AL Utrecht

3 University of Vienna, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna

4 Kiel University, Institute for Natural Resource Conservation, Olshausenstr. 75, 24118 Kiel

5 University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, 53113 Bonn

6 Ecosystem Services Research Group, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Jaegerstrasse 22/23, 10117 Berlin

7 Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Department of Landscape Management and Nature Conservation, Schicklerstr. 5, 16225 Eberswalde

8 Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Weberplatz 1, 01217 Dresden

Operationalization of the ecosystem services (ES) concept for improved natural resource management and decision support cannot, thus far, be rated as satisfactory. Participation of stakeholders is still a major methodical and conceptual challenge for implementing ES. Therefore, we conducted an online survey and a literature analysis to identify benefits and challenges of the application of ES in participatory processes. The results show that the purpose of stakeholder engagement is very diverse as a result of varying objectives, spatial scales and institutional levels of analysis. The complexity, terminology and (lacking) coherent classification of ES are pivotal aspects that should be accounted for in the design of studies to improve stakeholder participation.
Although limitations of time and financial resources are bigger challenges than ES related ones, tailoring communication strategies and information for different stakeholder groups are of major importance for the success of ES studies. Results support the view that the potential benefits of applying ES, e.g., consensus finding, and development of integrated solutions, cannot be realized consistently across the different spatial scales and decision-making levels. Focusing on stakeholder processes represents a means to increase the relevance, reliability and impact of study results and to move participation in ES research from theory to reality.

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