Integration of the ecosystem services concept in planning documents from six municipalities in southwestern Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The ecosystem services (ES) concept refers to benefits that humanity receives from nature. Investigating how this concept has been embraced within urban planning is important when assessing the awareness of human dependence on natural functions and the potential for the ES concept to increase this awareness. We analyzed planning documents from three small and three large municipalities in southern Sweden to see how explicitly the ES concept was addressed and which individual services were mentioned. We found that five of the municipalities mentioned the ES concept explicitly and the remaining municipality addressed it implicitly. Comprehensive and green plans referred to the ES concept more explicitly than did plans that focused on a single issue. We used 23 individual ES as a reference; each was mentioned in at least one document, but those concerning habitat and recreation were mentioned most frequently. Individual ES were generally described at an elaborate level. No major differences were identified between large and small municipalities except that large ones mentioned more individual ES. Our study demonstrates that municipalities in southern Sweden have started to integrate the ES concept into their planning documents. However, there is great potential to increase and concretize the awareness of ES.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Public Administration Studies


  • Green infrastructure, Municipalities, Nature-based solutions, Public policy, Spatial planning, Sweden
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 1
Publication categoryResearch