The ecosystem service (ES) concept is becoming mainstream in policy and planning, but operational influence on practice is seldom reported. Here, we report the practitioners’ perspectives on the practical implementation of the ES concept in 27 case studies. A standardised anonymous survey (n = 246), was used, focusing on the science-practice interaction process, perceived impact and expected use of the case study assessments. Operationalisation of the concept was shown to achieve a gradual change in practices: 13% of the case studies reported a change in action (e.g. management or policy change), and a further 40% anticipated that a change would result from the work. To a large extent the impact was attributed to a well conducted science-practice interaction process (>70%). The main reported advantages of the concept included: increased concept awareness and communication; enhanced participation and collaboration; production of comprehensive science-based knowledge; and production of spatially referenced knowledge for input to planning (91% indicated they had acquired new knowledge). The limitations were mostly case-specific and centred on methodology, data, and challenges with result implementation. The survey highlighted the crucial role of communication, participation and collaboration across different stakeholders, to implement the ES concept and enhance the democratisation of nature and landscape planning.
- Ecosystem services operationalisation
- Place-based implementation
- Stakeholder perceptions