Perceptions of the ecosystem services concept: Opportunities and challenges in the Swedish municipal context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A current focus of ecosystem services (ES) implementation is on the municipal level of government where international and national legislation and policies have to be translated into practice. Given this focus, an understanding of perceptions within municipalities of the ES concept is crucial to support the implementation process. Against this background, this paper examines the perceptions of Swedish municipal stakeholders for the ES concept. A 2013 Swedish federal mandate that states that the values of ecosystem services should be considered in relevant decision-making processes, provides a timely context. Current perceptions, preconditions and awareness are explored via interviews and analyses. The results show that the views on the ecosystem services concept and its usefulness are generally very positive. Conceptual knowledge use is perceived as important as is the recognition of monetary valuation of ES. However, clarification of the distinction between implicit and explicit use of the concept by stakeholders is needed. Finally, results indicate that a deeper understanding of monetary valuation of ecosystem services by municipal staff members is connected with a more critical view on monetary valuation. It is concluded that detailed and clear definitions and guidelines are needed in order to support the process of implementing ES in municipalities.


External organisations
  • Kristianstad University
  • Malmö University
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Anthropocentrism, ecosystem services, Ecosystem services concept, Knowledge use, Monetary valuation, Municipal decision-making, Values of nature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

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