Landscape Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 1435–1446 | Cite as

Evaluating the role of ecosystem services in participatory land use planning: proposing a balanced score card

  • Christine FürstEmail author
  • Paul Opdam
  • Luis Inostroza
  • Sandra Luque
Research Article


The application of the ecosystem services (ES) concept in land use planning has great potential to enhance the awareness of planning actors on their interactions. At the same time it can contribute to improve the linkage between the role of land use patterns and the understanding of land system functioning and its contribution to human well-being. The concept should be developed in a way that can be applicable in socio-ecological systems where nature and society are capable of enhancing their roles mutually. The objective of this paper is to suggest a standardized scheme and generalizable criteria to assess how successful the application of the ES concept contributed to facilitate participatory planning. We consider three potential advantages and three critical aspects for how to improve the applicability and relevance of the ES concept in planning. Hereon based, we present a balanced score card tool for which we broke down to advantages and risks into concrete questions. We illustrate the application of this approach with two case studies, representatives of two major governance schemes in relation to land use planning. We demonstrate that the balanced score card approach helps to reveal potential imbalances regarding the consideration of different ES groups. It supports testing the potential of the ES concept to enhance or not interactions of local and regional actors. We conclude that the framework should be reconsidered after a set of case studies to be developed into a monitoring tool for supporting planning practices.


Ecosystem services Participatory land use planning Balanced score card Actors Ecosystem services groups Efficiency of land use planning processes Quality of land use plans 



The idea for this paper was born from the workshop organized at the EcoSummit 2012 “Structure matters—The potential of land-use pattern to contribute to ES provision”. It underwent an intensive discussion process and we wish to thank cordially the participants of this workshop, for sharing ideas and supporting the development of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Fürst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul Opdam
    • 2
  • Luis Inostroza
    • 3
    • 4
  • Sandra Luque
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Center for Development ResearchUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Spatial Planning Group, Alterra-Wageningen UR Team Nature and SocietyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote SensingTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  4. 4.Centre for Latin American StudiesUniversity of EconomicsPrague 3Czech Republic
  5. 5.EMGRNational Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA)GrenobleFrance
  6. 6.Department of Geography and Sustainable DevelopmentUniversity of St AndrewsSt. AndrewsScotland, UK

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