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Keywords:

  • Ecosystem services;
  • Landscape management;
  • Case study;
  • Decision making;
  • Stakeholder involvement

Abstract

Increasing reference to the ecosystem services (ES) concept is made in publications on the need to use natural resources sustainably, to protect and enhance biodiversity, and to alleviate poverty in developing countries. To examine the significance of the concept in densely populated industrialized countries, this case study investigates its use in several sustainable landscape management projects in the Netherlands. Guidance by the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project (TEEB) for local and regional policy and management serves as a reference. The projects studied show that the ES concept is seen as a tool for enhancing biodiversity, creating more sustainable regional development plans, supporting better spatial-planning decisions on soil sealing, and, most importantly, for getting the involvement of much broader stakeholder groups—not just to make better decisions, but also to attract more funding for the plans. Not only does the Netherlands have a high demand for various ecosystem services and a desire for multifunctional land use, it also has a long tradition of consensus-seeking. As a result, “Dutch practice” is complex and involves many different stakeholders. Because of increasing recognition of the role ecosystem services play in enhancing the visibility of natural resources in decision making, the ES concept seems to be gaining a foothold. However, the number of projects is still limited, and neither the use of the methods nor the results are monitored. So far, this has made it impossible to say whether the approach leads to more sustainable decisions—in other words, to the better protection and management of natural resources. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013; 9: 237–242. © 2013 SETAC