14 August 2018
IUCN Report Guides Practitioners in Selecting Tools for Ecosystem Services Assessment
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
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IUCN-WCPA has produced a report that reviews and compares nine tools for conducting ecosystem services assessments in protected areas, Key Biodiversity Areas and natural World Heritage sites.

The report aims to help users select the most appropriate ES tool based on the purpose of their assessment.

7 August 2018: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) has released a report that provides guidance for practitioners on tools to measure, model and value ecosystem services (ES) provision. The report focuses on assessing ES in sites with high biodiversity and nature conservation value.

ES, the “benefits that nature provides to people,” include carbon storage and sequestration, water provision, income opportunities, recreation and tourism and other benefits. Protected areas (PAs), including Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and natural World Heritage sites, are critical in ensuring the long-term delivery of ES. The report explains that understanding the ES provided by PAs, KBAs and World Heritage sites can contribute to increasing support for safeguarding the benefits and values of these services, informing management decisions and promoting equity in benefit sharing and resource use, among other contributions.

The report titled, ‘Tools for Measuring, Modelling, and Valuing Ecosystem Services: Guidance for Key Biodiversity Areas, Natural World Heritage Sites and Protected Areas’, aims to help practitioners select the most appropriate ES assessment tool. The report provides a set of decision trees to guide practitioners in selecting among the nine tools based on the goals of the assessment, the information needed (quantitative or qualitative; monetary or non-monetary; single-use or multi-site; and spatial or non-spatial) and the resources and time available for the assessment.

Understanding the ES provided by PAs, KBAs and World Heritage sites can contribute to increasing support for safeguarding the benefits and values of these services.

The report reviews and compares nine assessments tools: 1) Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES); 2) Co$tingNature; 3) Ecosystem Services Toolkit (EST); 4) Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST); 5) Multiscale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services (MIMES); 6) Protected Area Benefits Assessment Tool (PA-BAT); 7) Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES); 8) Toolkit for Ecosystem Services Site-based Assessment TESSA; and 9) WaterWorld. EST, TESSA and PA-BAT use PDF documents to guide users through a step-by-step ES assessment while the other six tools use computer-based modelling. ARIES, InVEST, MIMES and SolVES require the use of GIS software, and ARIES and MIMES require modeling skills. EST requires users to have social science knowledge. EST, PA-BAT, SolVES and TESSA capture information about cultural and social ES through stakeholder participation, such as workshops or surveys.

All nine tools can be applied in freshwater, terrestrial and coastal marine areas. ARIES, InVEST, MIMES and SolVES can also be used for pelagic marine assessments. To help guide users, a table in the report illustrates the tools that can be used for various provisioning ES, regulating ES and cultural ES.

The report is part of the IUCN-WPCA Best Practice Guidelines series. The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA), Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University in the US, Conservation International, Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) provided financial and in-kind support for the report. [Publication: Tools for Measuring, Modeling and Valuing Ecosystem Services] [Report Webpage] [IUCN Press Release]

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