Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 1575–1597 | Cite as

What can conservation strategies learn from the ecosystem services approach? Insights from ecosystem assessments in two Spanish protected areas

  • Marina García-LlorenteEmail author
  • Paula A. Harrison
  • Pam Berry
  • Ignacio Palomo
  • Erik Gómez-Baggethun
  • Irene Iniesta-Arandia
  • Carlos Montes
  • David García del Amo
  • Berta Martín-López
Original Paper


Biodiversity conservation strategies that overlook the interests of local people are prone to create conflicts. The ecosystem service approach holds potential for more comprehensively integrating the social dimension into decision-making in protected areas, but its implementation in conservation policies is still in its infancy. This research assesses the extent to which ecosystem services have been implemented in conservation strategies in protected areas. The study was conducted in two outstanding Spanish protected areas, covering a wetland (Doñana Natural and National Parks) and a Mediterranean mountain system (Sierra Nevada Natural and National Parks). Data were collected from deliberative workshops with managers and researchers, face-to-face surveys with users and a review of management plans. We found that, beyond intrinsic values of ecosystems and biodiversity, these areas provide multiple ecosystem services that deserve further attention to ensure their sustained delivery. Our research shows that environmental managers and researchers have different perceptions and priorities regarding ecosystem services management compared with ecosystem service users. Environmental managers and researchers in both protected areas perceived that human-nature relationships and ecosystem services are already widely included in management plans, if often not explicitly. We found that different ecosystem service categories receive uneven attention in management plans. These contained measures to manage provisioning and cultural services whereas measures for managing regulating services were perceived to be largely absent. We conclude by summarizing insights on how the ecosystem service approach may enhance the consideration of social interests in the management of management protected areas.


Deliberative workshop Document analysis Management plan National Park Natural Park Perception 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Sierra Nevada National and Natural Park staff and the Department of Environment of the Andalusian Government staff and researchers for attending the workshops conducted, we also thank respondents who kindly answered the survey. Funding for the development of this research was provided by a postdoctoral grant from the Spanish National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (INIA) which is co-funded by the European Social Fund, a Juan de la Cierva Grant from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Project 018/2009), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (project CGL2011-30266), the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (FP7, 2007–2013) under the BESAFE project (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Arguments for our Future Environment;; Contract No. 282743) and the OpenNESS Project (Operationalisation of Natural capital and Ecosystem Services: From concepts to real-world applications; Contract No. 308428).


  1. Aspizua R, Bonet FJ, Zamora R, Sánchez FJ, Cano-Manuel FJ, Henares I (2010) El Observatorio de Cambio Global de Sierra Nevada: hacia la gestión adaptativa de los espacios naturales. Ecosistemas 19:56–68Google Scholar
  2. Aznar-Sánchez JA, Galdeano-Gómez E, Pérez-Mesa JC (2011) Intensive horticulture in Almeria: a counterpoint to current European rural policy strategies. J Agrar Change 11:241–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ban NC, Mills M, Tam J, Hicks CC, Klain S, Stoeckl N, Bottrill MC, Levine J, Pressey RL, Satterfield T, Chan KM (2013) A social–ecological approach to conservation planning: embedding social considerations. Front Ecol Environ 11:194–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bertzky B, Corrigan C, Kemsey J, Kenney S, Ravilious C, Besançon C, Burgess N (2012) Protected Planet Report 2012: Tracking progress towards global targets for protected areas. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK  Google Scholar
  5. Bonet-García FJ, Pérez-Luque AJ, Moreno-Llorca RA, Pérez-Pérez R, Puerta-Piñeiro C, Zamora R (2015) Protected areas as elicitors of human well-being in a developed region: A new synthetic (socioeconomic) approach. Biol Conserv 187:221–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonet-García FJ, Pérez-Luque AJ, Moreno-Llorca RA, Zamora R (2010) Observatorio de Cambio Global en Sierra Nevada. Estructura y Contenidos Básicos. Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía-Universidad de Granada, Granada, p 48Google Scholar
  7. Caudron A, Vigier L, Champigneulle A (2012) Developing collaborative research to improve effectiveness in biodiversity conservation practice. J Appl Ecol 49:753–757Google Scholar
  8. Commission European (2011) The EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. Publications Office of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  9. Consejería de Medio Ambiente (2004) Plan de Desarrollo Sostenible (PDS) del Parque Natural de Sierra Nevada. Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, SpainGoogle Scholar
  10. Consejería de Medio Ambiente (2010) Plan de Desarrollo Sostenible II (PDS) de Doñana. Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, Spain Google Scholar
  11. Cook CN, Carter RB, Fuller RA, Hockings M (2012) Managers consider multiple lines of evidence important for biodiversity management decisions. J Environ Manage 113:341–346CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cowling RM, Egoh B, Knight AT, O’Farrel PJ, Reyers B, Rouget M, Roux RJ, Welz A, Wilhelm-Rechman A (2008) An operational model for mainstreaming ecosystem services for implementation. PNAS 105:9483–9488CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Cumming GS (2016) The relevance and resilience of protected areas in the Anthropocene. Anthropocene. doi: 10.1016/j.ancene.2016.03.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cumming GS, Allen CR, Ban NC, Biggs D, Biggs HC et al (2015) Understanding protected area resilience: a multi-scale, social-ecological approach. Ecol Appl 25:299–319CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Custodio E, Manzano M, Montes C (2009) Las aguas subterráneas en Doñana. Implicaciones ecológicas y sociales. Agencia Andaluza del Agua, Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, SevillaGoogle Scholar
  16. Decreto 48/2004 (2004) de 10 de febrero, por el que se aprueba el Plan Rector de Uso y Gestión del Parque Nacional de Doñana. BOJA 44:5517–5580Google Scholar
  17. Decreto 97/2005 (2005) de 11 de abril, por el que se establece la ordenación del Parque Nacional y Parque Natural de Doñana. BOJA 105:98–105Google Scholar
  18. Decreto 238/2011 (2011) de 12 de julio, por el que se establece la ordenación y gestión de Sierra Nevada. BOJA 155:114–314Google Scholar
  19. DeFries R, Hansen A, Turner BL, Reid R, Liu J (2007) Land use change around protected areas: management to balance human needs and ecological function. Ecol Appl 17:1031–1038CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Dudley N (ed) (2008) Guidelines for applying protected areas management categories. IUCN, GlandGoogle Scholar
  21. Dudley N, Higgins-Zogib L, Hockings M, MacKinnon K, Sandwith T, Stoltonet S (2011) National parks with benefits: how protecting the planet’s biodiversity also provides ecosystem services. Solut Sustain Desirable Future 2:87–95Google Scholar
  22. Espacio Natural de Doñana (2011) Memoria de actividades y resultados 2010. Junta de Andalucía, AndalusianGoogle Scholar
  23. Espacio Natural de Doñana (2012) Memoria de actividades y resultados 2011. Junta de Andalucía, AndalusianGoogle Scholar
  24. Espacio Natural de Doñana (2013) Memoria de actividades y resultados 2012. Junta de Andalucía, AndalusianGoogle Scholar
  25. Espacio Natural de Doñana (2014) Memoria de actividades y resultados 2013. Junta de Andalucía, AndalusianGoogle Scholar
  26. Espacio Natural Sierra Nevada (2012) Memoria de actividades y resultados 2011. Sierra Nevada: Parque Nacional, Parque Natural y Reserva de la Biosfera, Junta de AndalucíaGoogle Scholar
  27. Espacio Natural Sierra Nevada (2015) Memoria de actividades y resultados 2014. Junta de AndalucíaGoogle Scholar
  28. Flint CG, Kunze I, Muhar A, Yoshida Y, Penker M (2013) Exploring empirical typologies of human-nature relationships and linkages to the ecosystem services concept. Landsc Urban Plan 120:208–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. García-Llorente M, Iniesta-Arandia I, Willaarts B, Harrison PA, Berry P, Bayo MM, Castro AJ, Aguilera PA, Montes C, Martín-López B (2015) Biophysical and socio-cultural factors underlying spatial tradeoffs of ecosystem services in semiarid watersheds. Ecol Soc 20(3):39. doi: 10.5751/ES-07785-200339 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. García-Nieto AP, García-Llorente M, Palomo I, Quintas-Soriano C, Montes C, Martín-López B (2015) Collaborative mapping of ecosystem services: the role of stakeholders’ profiles. Ecosyst Serv 13:141–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gómez-Baggethun E, Alcorlo P, Montes C (2011a) Ecosystem services associated with a mosaic of alternative states in a Mediterranean wetland: case study of the Doñana Marsh (southwest Spain). Hydrolog Sci J 56:1374–1387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gómez-Baggethun E, Kelemen E, Martín-López B, Palomo I, Montes C (2013) Scale misfit in ecosystem service governance as a source of environmental conflict. Soc Natur Resour 26:1202–1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gómez-Baggethun E, Martín-López B, Lomas P, Zorrilla P, Montes C (2011b) Evolution of ecosystem services in a Mediterranean cultural landscape: Doñana case study, Spain (1956–2006). In: Sofo A (ed) Biodiversity. InTech, Rijeka, pp 27–46Google Scholar
  34. Gómez-Baggethun E, Mingorría S, Reyes-García V, Calvet L, Montes C (2010) Traditional ecological knowledge trends in the transition to a market economy: empirical study in Doñana natural areas. Conserv Biol 24:721–729CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Gómez-Ortiz A, Oliva M, Salvà-Catarineu M, Salvador-Franch F (2013) The environmental protection of landscapes in the high semiarid Mediterranean mountain of Sierra Nevada National Park (Spain): historical evolution and future perspectives. Appl Geogr 42:227–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Harrison PA, Berry PM, Simpson G, Haslett JR, Blicharska M, Bucur M, Dunford R, Egoh B, García-Llorente M, Geamana N et al (2014) Linkages between biodiversity attributes and ecosystem services: a systematic review. Ecosyst Serv 9:191–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hauck J, Potschin M, Saarela SR (2015) Ecosystem services and transdisciplinarity (draft). In: Potschin, M, Jax K (eds) OpenNESS Ecosystem Service Reference Book. EC FP7 Grant Agreement no. 308428.
  38. Iniesta-Arandia I, García-Llorente M, Aguilera PA, Montes C, Martín-López B (2014) Socio-cultural valuation of ecosystem services: uncovering the links between values, drivers of change and human well-being. Ecol Econ 108:36–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Joppa LN, Loarie SR, Pimm SL (2008) On the protection of “protected areas”. PNAS 105:6673–6678CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Juffe-Bignoli D, Burgess ND, Bingham H, Belle EMS, de Lima MG, Deguignet M, Bertzky B, Milam AN, Martinez-Lopez J et al (2014) Protected planet report 2014. UNEP-WCMC, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. Kovács E, Kelemen E, Kalóczkai Á, Margóczi K, Pataki G, Gébert J, Málovics G, Balázs B et al (2015) Understanding the links between ecosystem service trade-offs and conflicts in protected areas. Ecosyst Serv 12:117–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ley 42/2007 (2007) de 13 de Diciembre, del Patrimonio Natural y de la Biodiversidad. BOE 299:51275–51327Google Scholar
  43. Ley 45/2007 (2007) de 13 de Diciembre, del Patrimonio Natural y de la Biodiversidad. BOE 299:51339–51349Google Scholar
  44. Lobo JM, Castro I, Moreno JC (2001) Spatial and environmental determinants of vascular plant species richness distribution in the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. Biol J Linn Soc 73:233–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. López-Hoffman L, Varady RG, Flessa KW, Balvanera P (2010) Ecosystem services across borders: a framework for transboundary conservation policy. Front Ecol Environ 8:84–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mace GM (2014) Whose conservation? Science 345:1558–1560CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Martín-López B, García-Llorente M, Palomo I, Montes C (2011) The conservation against development paradigm in protected areas: valuation of ecosystem services in the Doñana social-ecological system (southwestern Spain). Ecol Econ 70:1481–1491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Martín-López B, Montes C, Ramírez L, Benayas J (2009) What drives policy decision-making related to species conservation? Biol Conserv 142:1370–1380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Moreno J, Palomo I, Escalera J, Martín-López B, Montes C (2014) Incorporating ecosystem services into ecosystem-based management to deal with complexity: a participative mental model approach. Landsc Ecol 29:1407–1421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Múgica M, De Lucio JV (1996) The role of on-site experience on landscape preferences. A case study at Doñana National Park (Spain). J Environ Manage 47:229–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Olías M, González F, Cerón J, Bolívar J, González-Labajo J, García-López S (2008) Water quality and distribution of trace elements in the Doñana aquifer (SW Spain). Environ Geol 55:1555–1568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Oteros-Rozas E, Martín-López B, González JA, Plieninger T, López CA, Montes C (2014) Socio-cultural valuation of ecosystem services in a transhumance social-ecological network. Reg Environ Change 14:1269–1289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Palomo I, Martín-López B, Alcorlo P, Montes C (2014a) Limitations of protected areas zoning in Mediterranean cultural landscapes under the ecosystem services approach. Ecosystems 17:1202–1215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Palomo I, Martín-López B, Potschin M, Haines-Young R, Montes C (2013) National Parks, buffer zones and surrounding landscape: mapping ecosystem services flows. Ecosyst Serv 4:104–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Palomo I, Martín-López B, Zorrilla-Miras P, García Del Amo D, Montes C (2014b) Deliberative mapping of ecosystem services within and around Doñana National Park (SW Spain) in relation to land use change. Reg Environ Change 14:237–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Palomo I, Montes C, Martín-López B, González JA, García-Llorente M, Alcorlo P, García C (2014c) Incorporating the social-ecological approach in protected areas in the Anthropocene. Bioscience 64:181–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Quintas-Soriano C, Castro AJ, García-Llorente M, Cabello J, Castro H (2014) From supply to social demand: a landscape-scale analysis of the water regulation service. Lands Ecol 132:102–110Google Scholar
  58. Quintas-Soriano C, Castro AJ, Castro H, García-Llorente M (2016) Impacts of land use change on ecosystem services and implications for human well-being in Spanish drylands. Land Use Policy 54:534–548Google Scholar
  59. Radeloff VC, Stewart SI, Hawbaker TJ, Gimmi U, Pidgeon AM, Flather CH, Hammer RB, Helmers DP (2010) Housing growth in and near United States protected areas limits their conservation value. PNAS 107:940–945CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Rands MRW, Adams WM, Bennun L, Butchart SHM, Clemnts A (2010) Biodiversity conservation: challenges beyond 2010. Science 329(5997):1298–1303CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Red de Parques Nacionales (2008) Primer informe de situación de la Red de Parques Nacionales a 1 de Enero de 2007. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, EspañaGoogle Scholar
  62. Red de Parques Nacionales (2012) Segundo informe de situación de la Red de Parques Nacionales (2007–2010). Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, EspañaGoogle Scholar
  63. Rey Benayas JM, de la Montaña M (2003) Identifying areas of high-value vertebrate diversity for strengthening conservation. Biol Conserv 114:357–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Van Riper CJ, Kyle GT (2014) Capturing multiple values of ecosystem services shaped by environmental worldviews: a spatial analysis. J Environ Manag 145:374–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Serrano L, Reina M, Martín G, Reyes I, Arechederra A, León D, Toja J (2006) The aquatic systems of Doñana (SW Spain): watersheds and frontiers. Limnetica 25:11–32Google Scholar
  66. Stolton S, Dudley N (2010) The contribution of protected areas to human health. WWF and Equilibrium ResearchGoogle Scholar
  67. Thompson ID, Okabe K, Tylianakis JM, Kumar P, Brockerhoff EG, Schellhorn NA, Parrotta JA, Nasi R (2011) Forest biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem goods and services: translating science into policy. Bioscience 61:972–981CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tortosa G, Correa D, Sánchez-Raya AJ, Delgado A, Sánchez-Monedero MA, Bedmar EJ (2011) Effects of nitrate contamination and seasonal variation on the denitrication and greenhouse gas production in La Rocina stream (Doñana National Park, SW Spain). Ecol Eng 37:539–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Velasco D, García-Llorente M, Alonso B, Dolera A, Palomo I, Iniesta-Arandia I, Martín-López B (2015) Biodiversity conservation research challenges in the 21st century: a review of publishing trends in 2000 and 2011. Environ Sci Policy 54:90–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Venter O, Fuller RA, Segan DB, Carwardine J, Brooks T, Butchart SHM, Di Marco M, Iwamura T et al (2014) Targeting global protected area expansion for imperiled biodiversity. PLoS Biol 12:e1001891CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  71. Voth A (2007) National parks and rural development in Spain. In: Mose I (ed) Protected areas and regional development in Europe-Towards a new model for the 21st century. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp 141–160Google Scholar
  72. Watson JEM, Dudley N, Segan DB, Hockings M (2014) The performance and potential of protected areas. Nature 515:67–73CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Wilkinson C, Saarne T, Peterson GD, Colding J (2013) Strategic spatial planning and the ecosystem services concept—an historical exploration. Ecol Soc 18:37. doi: 10.5751/ES-05368-180137 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Young JC, Jordan A, Searle KR, Butler A, Chapman DS, Simmons P, Watt AD (2013) Does stakeholder involvement really benefit biodiversity conservation? Biol Conserv 158:359–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zamora R (2010) Las Áreas protegidas como Observatorios del Cambio Global. Ecosistemas 19:1–4Google Scholar
  76. Zamora R, Pérez-Luque AJ, Bonet FJ, Barea-Azcón JM, Aspizua R (eds) (2015) La huella del cambio global en Sierra Nevada: Retos para la conservación. Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio, Junta de Andalucía, p 208Google Scholar
  77. Zorrilla-Miras P, Palomo I, Gómez-Baggethun E, Martín-López B, Lomas PL, Montes C (2014) Effects of land-use change on wetland ecosystem services: a case study in the Doñana marshes (SW Spain). Landsc Urban Plan 122:160–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina García-Llorente
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Paula A. Harrison
    • 4
    • 3
  • Pam Berry
    • 3
  • Ignacio Palomo
    • 5
  • Erik Gómez-Baggethun
    • 6
    • 7
  • Irene Iniesta-Arandia
    • 2
  • Carlos Montes
    • 2
  • David García del Amo
    • 2
  • Berta Martín-López
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Applied Research and Agricultural ExtensionMadrid Institute for Rural, Agricultural and Food Research and Development (IMIDRA)Alcala de HenaresSpain
  2. 2.Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Edificio de BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Environmental Change Institute, Centre for the EnvironmentOxford UniversityOxfordUK
  4. 4.Centre for Ecology & Hidrology (CEH)Lancaster Environment CentreBailrigg LancasterUK
  5. 5.Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3)BilbaoSpain
  6. 6.Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric)Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)ÅsNorway
  7. 7.Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)OsloNorway
  8. 8.Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Faculty of SustainabilityLeuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany

Personalised recommendations