Do you have 5 minutes to spare? -The challenges of stakeholder processes in ecosystem services studies

  • Lars Koschke Dresden University of Technology, Department of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Pienner Str.19, Tharandt, 01737, Germany
  • Suzanne van der Meulen Deltares, Ecosystem Services research group, Postbus 85467, Utrecht, 3508AL, Netherlands
  • Susanne Frank Dresden University of Technology, Department of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Pienner Str.19, Tharandt, 01737, Germany; University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, Bonn, 53113, Germany
  • Anna Schneidergruber University of Vienna, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, Rennweg 14, Vienna, 1030, Austria
  • Marion Kruse Kiel University, Institute for Natural Resource Conservation, Olshausenstr. 75, Kiel, 24118, Germany
  • Christine Fürst University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, Bonn, 53113, Germany
  • Esther Neubert Dresden University of Technology, Department of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Pienner Str.19, Tharandt, 01737, Germany
  • Bettina Ohnesorge Ecosystem Services Research Group, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Jaegerstrasse 22/23, Berlin, 10117, Germany
  • Claudia Schröder Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Department of Landscape Management and Nature Conservation, Schicklerstr. 5, Eberswalde, 16225, Germany
  • Felix Müller Kiel University, Institute for Natural Resource Conservation, Olshausenstr. 75, Kiel, 24118, Germany
  • Olaf Bastian Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Weberplatz 1, Dresden, 01217, Germany
Keywords: Decision-making, Natural resource management, Operationalization, Participative processes, Questionnaire, Spatial planning


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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How to Cite
Koschke, L.; van der Meulen, S.; Frank, S.; Schneidergruber, A.; Kruse, M.; Fürst, C.; Neubert, E.; Ohnesorge, B.; Schröder, C.; Müller, F.; Bastian, O. Do You Have 5 Minutes to Spare? -The Challenges of Stakeholder Processes in Ecosystem Services Studies. LO 2014, 37, 1-25.
Research Article