Integrating ecosystem services into environmental impact assessment: An analytic-deliberative approach

  • Karjalainen T
  • Marttunen M
  • Sarkki S
 et al. 
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Analytic-deliberative techniques have been suggested as a promising approach to ecosystem service (ES) valuation but are still at an experimental stage. This paper contributes to the development of ES valuation in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure by introducing an analytic-deliberative approach to assessing restoration options for a regulated river in Finland. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) with a value-focused approach was applied and compared with a desktop application of the ES-focused MCDA approach. We found out that the concept of ES could bring added value to the assessment process by: 1) enabling the framing and valuing especially of provisioning services - final ecosystem services, such as salmon catch in a more understandable way for the stakeholders, and 2) taking into account ecosystem processes and supporting services more precisely. However, some potential dangers of using the ES-based approach could include ES's appearing as a distant mode of thinking to affected groups and other stakeholders, and neglect of the trade-offs between ES and other relevant value and impact categories. Thus, although the ES framework is promising, it should not form a rigid 'checklist' way of making assessments but should rather be used to widen perspectives about potential issues in linking ecosystem properties to human benefits and values. It is argued that by combining the ES framework with the interactive MCDA approach, we can form a comprehensive and integrated approach to incorporating ESs into EIA.

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