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Ecosystem services on the ground

How are ecosystem services understood, managed and co-created at local level? Major insights from our OpenNESS field work and previous ecosystem service related projects were shared at the 12th ESEE conference. The European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE) held its 12th biannual conference last week at the Corvinus University of Budapest. I was honoured to be invited as speaker in one of the keynote lectures, which actually took shape as a panel discussion between Tibor Hartel (ecologist, Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Romania) and myself, moderated by András Báldi (director of the Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences). Building on our empirical experiences from Central and Eastern Europe we challenged the ecosystem service concept and terminology, and pinpointed to some social contextual factors that make the concept difficult to apply. Examples of how the concept could be effectively used were also provided. While we recognized that existing institutions often crowd out the original motivations of local resource users to maintain and sustainably use ecosystem services, we also highlighted possible ways of “crowding-in”, i.e. raising awareness and create a common will to maintain the services crucial to local communities.

Interested in the topic? Visit the youtube channel of ESEE 2017 and watch the whole panel discussion online!