This document provides guidance on how to make an ecosystem services assessment. It explains what ecosystem services are, why an ecosystem services assessment needs to be made, and how it can add impact to your work. It addresses assessment of likely ecosystem service outcomes across a range of contexts, including:
• development or management initiatives where there is a pre-determined approach, or set of potential approaches; or
• where novel options for place or scheme development are being explored; or
• assessment of the ecosystem service outcomes of schemes or projects already completed.
This guide is intended to take you through the principal steps in preparing for and undertaking an ecosystem services assessment. It is generic and flexible in nature, recognising that there are many types of development or management schemes ranging from localised habitat enhancements or planning determinations through to large-scale industrial or flood risk projects. The guide provides generic information about the value of and the steps entailed in undertaking an ecosystem services assessment, drawing upon learning from a series of published ecosystem services case studies and providing references to further guidance and sources of information.
This guide can be used directly as a skeleton for conducting your own ecosystem services assessment, as guide structure reflects that we have found to be most effective for reporting on scheme assessments.
This guide has been drafted consistently with key messages from HM Government’s 2011 Natural Environment White Paper The Natural Choice (HM Government, 2011) providing references to additional sources of information and guidance where helpful.
Ecosystem services assessment may be required in a wide diversity of applications. This guide can not hope to provide a ‘one size fits all’ solution. However, the flow of sections and concepts in this guide can be adapted to meet the needs of different potential users and contexts.