Ecosystem service knowledge: who uses it, when and for what purpose?

Type of practice:

Jordan, A., Russel D. (eds) 2014. Ecosystem service knowledge: who uses it, when and for what purpose? Theme issue of Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32(2).


The concept of ecosystem services is increasingly being promoted as a means better to protect ecological systems through more informed decision-making, but in practice much less is known about how far this shift in thinking is actually affecting the way in which ecosystem knowledge is used, especially by decision makers.  A brand new collection of research papers (two of them open access) by international experts in knowledge ecological production and use explores, for the very first time, how far ecosystem knowledge has been taken up in critical decision making venues such as land use planning, policy appraisal and cost benefit analysis.

The papers in Environment and Planning C reveal that producing ‘more knowledge’ is only ever a necessary but insufficient condition for greater policy success.  Ecosystem knowledge has to navigate many obstacles before it can influence decisions. And building the necessary alliances of stakeholders to enable greater knowledge use can be very time consuming - meaning that ecosystems may have already been damaged by the time knowledge about the threats feeds through into decision making.

The eight papers address four main themes: Knowledge gaps - what is already known about the use of ecological knowledge in particular venues? Trends - what has triggered the shift towards thinking in terms of ecosystem services? Unfolding experiences – of knowledge (non) utilisation across key policy venues. New agendas - what are the implications for future research, theory and policy practice?

The research was mainly funded by the UK NERC, under its Valuing Nature Network. See,

Year of IA Practice: