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ES assessment typically requires biophysical measures and descriptions of the ecosystems and the dynamics involved in the production of ES. It also requires description of ES benefits to people and the dynamics of how benefits are distributed among different groups of people. People are often not aware of some benefits that they rely on from ecosystems.

ES assessment clarifies these benefits as well as benefits that people commonly know of. ES assessment may include identifying the significance of ES benefits to people through valuation.

Valuation can be particularly useful when decisions involve trade-offs, when decision-makers need to justify costs associated with the management of ES or when there is a need to inform diverse stakeholders of the broad value, or importance, of ES. Integrated analysis of the various relevant ecological, socio-cultural, and economic factors can be completed using a decision-support approach such as cost-benefit analysis, multi-criteria analysis or structured decision-making that can identify trade-offs and implications of different environmental management and development options.

The primary objective of ES assessment is to support evidence-based decision-making to improve human well-being and ensure environmental sustainability. Because ES are the basis for most of the relationships between ecosystems and human well-being, ES assessment necessarily considers both ecosystem dynamics and human dependence on those dynamics. Therefore, ES assessments do not replace other ecosystem-focused analyses , but can be used in conjunction with them. The conceptual and analytical framework used by this Toolkit for conducting ES assessment is shown in Figure i.

By illustrating how ecosystem components are connected, this framework helps with understanding how a proposed activity or decision might impact the supply of ES. The depiction of multiple disciplines and kinds of knowledge that are needed to understand ES dynamics is a feature of this framework.

It shows how most ES assessments will need biophysical, socio-cultural, and economic information. In addition to the processes of ES production and benefit distribution, the framework recognizes the role of management and governance in affecting these processes, as well as the broader social and natural drivers of change-both direct and indirect-that influence how ES are produced and managed.

Pavan Sukhdev: Put a value on nature!

Figure i is a graphic showing the conceptual framework for the Ecosystem Services Toolkit. The diagram consists of three horizontal bars, with connecting arrows. The top bar is titled Management and Governance and Drivers of Change and shows how these things influence the ability of ecosystems to generate ES. First are biophysical structures and processes of ecosystems also known as natural capital. Moving to the right, these structures and processes give rise to ecosystem functions.

Ecosystem processes and functions result in ecosystem services which are shown in the middle. Further to the right, ES provide benefits to humans, and finally on the left side of the bar, these services and benefits have significance to human well-being. The lowest bar of the diagram is titled Interdisciplinary Analysis and lists the broad fields of knowledge needed to complete an ES assessment. This Toolkit provides step-by-step guidance to complete a robust, comprehensive ES assessment. This includes guidance about the information, analysis, and process that can be helpful.

The effort required to complete a thorough ES assessment depends on the complexity of the questions and the types of information and analysis needed to support the decision. The following six steps can be completed to different degrees depending on what is required to address the specific issue for which an assessment is being undertaken. For example, a small team can attempt to work through the steps quickly to decide which steps will be needed to answer their questions, and where more resources should be directed.

Table i is a quick reference guide to the six-step process for completing an ES assessment detailed in Chapter 2. Although steps are defined sequentially for ease of communication, in practice the process is both iterative and progressive.

Step 4. Going into detail: Identifying and using indicators, data sources, and analysis methods. Step 1 is the most critical step in an ES assessment: the clear definition of the issue and identification of the questions for which answers are needed. In some cases, the issue may already be well understood but, especially with complex issues, there is often considerable work required to develop a detailed understanding of the issue and the various ecological, economic, and socio-cultural factors that are relevant.

It is used to identify whether or not an ES assessment is warranted for a particular case. In all ES assessments, it is used to logically determine which ES may be at risk in a particular case and the key considerations, including how people are likely to be affected. Working through the ES Priority Screening Tool provides an analytically sound justification for the decision of which ES should be the focus of an assessment. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of an ES assessment, multiple analysis methods and tools will be needed.

It is very important to select and use analytical methods and tools that are appropriate for answering the assessment questions. The five most common broad types of analyses used in ES assessment focus on:. The conclusions generated through the analyses can be applied to answer the assessment questions and support the decision for which the assessment was completed. It is essential to understand what the results mean; however, it is equally important to understand what the results do not mean. The scope, orientation, meaning, and relevance of results will all be influenced by the choices that were made in designing and implementing the assessment.

Deciding on the key messages of an assessment is one of the most important steps of the communication process. It is not likely to be feasible to complete a comprehensive assessment for every decision. However, ES analyses and considerations can still inform different decisions through a strategic approach. The scope of the assessment may include anything from a short literature review to an in-depth collection and analysis of data, depending on the importance and complexity of the issue and the availability of resources to complete it.

A more thorough ES assessment is likely to be very useful and appropriate for issues that are large and complex and pose significant threats to the environment. Such a fully developed assessment will provide results that can inform many decisions about the issue. In the case of issues that are smaller and less complex and pose lower risk to the environment, it is realistic to complete more modest analyses while still using the analytically robust steps and tools in this Toolkit in a strategic way.

This Toolkit offers a practical, step-by-step guide and numerous resources for further understanding and direction. The Toolkit approach is fully interdisciplinary.

Ecosystem services

It is meant to assist in addressing the need to build capacity to use ES assessment and to help reflect ES considerations in environmental management and decision-making. Roles for different kinds of knowledge are interwoven throughout this Toolkit. This is because ES are a result of the interactions between ecosystems and human societies. ES assessment and many of its component analyses will, therefore, be accomplished through interdisciplinary collaboration among biophysical scientists, social scientists, and economists in every step.

Toolkit users are strongly encouraged to scan through this whole document prior to beginning an assessment to orient themselves on what is involved and what tools are available, and to understand when and how their own areas of expertise can contribute to the work of an assessment. The Toolkit approach can be adapted as needed to each context.


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Because each ecosystem is unique, an assessment is typically context-specific. In some cases, decision-makers may want to know whether a set of ES is being managed sustainably or if any ES are close to collapse. In other cases, they may want to know which ES are important to local populations, in what ways they are important, and their relative significance, for example, in order to develop a regional plan.

Footnote 6. Under the guidance of a national committee of assistant deputy ministers ADMs , governments undertake practical initiatives that help to strengthen capacity for informed decision-making about biodiversity in Canada. One such initiative is the Value of Nature to Canadians Study VNCS , mandated to develop information on the ecological, socio-cultural, and economic significance of nature in Canada, to Canadians.

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A national taskforce with one representative from each province, territory, and federal department with an environment-related mandate has worked together since to deliver useful products. Most recently, they published the results of the Canadian Nature Survey. These complex interactions are termed ecosystem functions. These goods and services freely delivered by ecosystems contribute to the environmental, social and economic well-being of the SEQ community, as well, to the well-being of the national and global community.

It is therefore important to maintain the capacity of our ecosystems i.

In the Framework, ecosystem services are grouped into 3 categories based on those developed for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment MA. These 3 categories are listed and a description provided in Table 1. Table 1: Ecosystem Service Categories and descriptions. Table 2: Lists and descriptions of ecosystem services.

Ecosystem Services Toolkit | biodivcanada

Because ecosystem functions that contribute to ecosystem service provision occur across a range of geographic scales, where the benefit is received by people is often not where the ecosystem functions occur and the goods and services are produced. The rate, scale and directional bias of ecosystem function to service delivery will influence how ecosystem goods and services are received; and how and who benefits from the provision of these services. It is beyond the scope and resources of this Project to define the flow of ecosystem function to benefit received for each of the possible ecosystem function to ecosystem service relationships.

These directional bias include:. In-Situ: The ecosystem service is both produced P and received B in the same geographic location. In Line of Sight: The ecosystem service is produced P in a specific location and received B in areas of the surrounding landscape that are in the line of sight of the provisioning location i. Omnidirectional: The ecosystem service is produced P in a specific location, however the ecosystem service is received B in the surrounding areas without directional bias.

One - directional downslope : The ecosystem service is produced P in a specific location, however the ecosystem service is received B downslope. One - directional upslope : The ecosystem service is produced P in a specific location, however the ecosystem service is received B upslope. One - directional landscape : The ecosystem service is produced P in a specific location, however the ecosystem service has a clear directional benefit B across the landscape. Ecosystems and their functions can provide private benefits e. Those receiving the benefits private or public are termed 'beneficiaries'.

1. Ecosystem service concept and classification systems

It is often helpful when considering the connections between ecosystem services and economic activities, to distinguish between beneficiaries that directly 'consume' ecosystem services e. The value of the benefits received by beneficiaries can be determined either through estimating the 'monetary' value of the benefit i. For the purpose of developing the Framework, stakeholders unequivocally agreed that the second approach be adopted, using scoring systems to represent the relative values of ecosystem services in terms of their contributions to the well-being of the SEQ community.

Information regarding the relationships between ecosystem services and well-being is provided in the webpage for each of the ecosystem services. It is recognised however that some stakeholders may be interested in the monetary value of ecosystem services. The Framework to date does not provide such information. Briefly, market-based techniques use monetary data for transactions that actually take place in markets, such as raw water drawn from catchments and paid for by water supply utilities; surrogate market techniques focus on monetary data that act as proxies for environmental values, for example variations in house prices that reflect different environmental conditions, all other factors being the same; and stated preference techniques that simply ask people, hypothetically, what they would be willing to pay for ecosystem services, particular attributes of ecosystems, or ecosystems in their entirety.

Like all valuation approaches, there are advantages and limitations that should be considered in the application of these approaches. Stakeholders are advised to seek professional economics expertise if they wish to pursue monetary valuation. Provisioning Services Material products obtained from ecosystem structure and function that contribute to human benefits. Cultural Services The contribution of ecosystem structure and function to non-material human benefits.

Ecosystem Service Category Ecosystem Service Description Provisioning Services Food products The range of food products derived from plants, animals and microbes including food products obtained through the recreational and commercial gathering of wild species, crops, fisheries and livestock. Water for Consumption The provision retention and storage of water for consumptive use for a variety of purposes e. Building and Fibre Resources Renewable biotic resources for building and fibre materials e.