Understanding the use of ecosystem service knowledge in decision making: lessons from international experiences of spatial planning

  • McKenzie E
  • Posner S
  • Tillmann P
 et al. 
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The limited understanding of how ecosystem service knowledge (ESK) is
used in decision making constrains our ability to learn from, replicate,
and convey success stories. We explore use of ESK in decision making in
three international cases: national coastal planning in Belize; regional
marine spatial planning on Vancouver Island, Canada; and regional land-
use planning on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Decision makers, scientists,
and stakeholders collaborated in each case to use a standardized
ecosystem service accounting tool to inform spatial planning. We
evaluate interview, survey, and observation data to assess evidence of
`conceptual', `strategic', and `instrumental' use of ESK. We find
evidence of all modes: conceptual use dominates early planning, while
strategic and instrumental uses occur iteratively in middle and late
stages. Conceptual and strategic uses of ESK build understanding and
compromise that facilitate instrumental use. We highlight attributes of
ESK, characteristics of the process, and general conditions that appear
to affect how knowledge is used. Meaningful participation, scenario
development, and integration of local and traditional knowledge emerge
as important for particular uses.

Author-supplied keywords

  • knowledge use; ecosystem services; spatial plannin

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  • Emily McKenzie

  • Stephen Posner

  • Patricia Tillmann

  • Joanna R Bernhardt

  • Kirsten Howard

  • Amy Rosenthal

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