Value pluralism in ecosystem services assessments: closing the gap between academia and conservation practitioners

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There have been several pleas for more inclusive ecosystem services assessments in recent years. This is partially due to a growing consensus about the importance of incorporating value pluralism into ecosystem services assessments. While there is increasingly attention for such value pluralism in academia and at the IPBES science policy interface, this concern barely reached many conservation practitioners, as indicated in studies reviewing decision support tools for ecosystem services. We examined six review studies of such tools and this revealed there is indeed little attention for value pluralism and only a part of the tools provides the conceptual space to incorporate value pluralism. The growing scientific and science-policy consensus that recognizing value pluralism is key for inclusive assessments can only be translated in actions if there is a connection to the field. Users of ecosystem services assessment tools should have the opportunity to select value-inclusive tools, as this can lead to a stronger support base for conservation actions, prevent conflict, and lead to more comprehensive ecosystem services assessments. This does not imply that all tools need to focus on values; the actual goal of a specific ecosystem services assessment tool is context-specific. If scientists want the plural valuation debate to have an impact on conservation practices, three conditions need to be fulfilled: (i) developing value-inclusive decision-support tools; (ii) clarifying when to use value inclusive tools; and (iii) learning from and sharing of value-inclusive tools.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101293
Number of pages2
JournalEcosystem Services
Issue number2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Decision-support tools
  • Ecosystem services assessment
  • Value pluralism


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