Photo: Maria Jansson

Ecosystem services - an integrative instrument for sustainable living environments in practice?

Research project
Active research
Project size
7 895 044
Project period
2020 - 2025
Project owner
Department of conservation

Short description

An integrated view of the landscape puts high demands on cooperation across sectoral boundaries. The ecosystem service approach is an integrative instrument for sustainable landscape development which lately has, due to an EU directive, been introduced at local and regional planning levels. Limitations to the implementation in practice has been reported. In this transdisciplinary research project we investigate if, how and when the ecosystem services approach operate as an integrative instrument. We will investigate how the concept of ecosystem services has been transferred into practice from the international and EU policy directive using an institutional logics perspective. We will also investigate the interface between conventional conservation planning and the ecosystem services approach through a critical heritage perspective.

Aim of the project

With focus on planning and management of sustainable living environments, this transdisciplinary research project aims to investigate if, how and when ecosystem services operate as an integrative instrument. In order to meet this objective, we will examine how the concept of ecosystem services has been transferred and transformed into practice from the international and EU policy through national, regional and local management and decision levels.

We will also examine the interface between the emergent ecosystem services approach and conventional conservation planning in regards to managing the historic environment, including urban blue-green infrastructure and public places. The relationships among institutional orders and their influence on individuals implementing the concept of ecosystem services in practice, will be analysed using an Institutional Logics Perspective. This analysis will investigate cross-level relations, aiming to understand how changes are related to both actors and structure, thus agency and institutional order. We adopt a critical heritage perspective to identify the common denominators of approaches and methods among individuals who map and assess cultural resources from ecosystem services and conventional conservation perspectives. This will further the understanding of if new space is being created for innovative cross-professional collaborations to support the link between historic living environments, sense of place and social and environmental sustainability.

The full project description is found on our Swedish website (in Swedish).

The project group

The research group includes four researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Ingegärd Eliasson (Physical Geography), Susanne Fredholm (Conservation of the built environment) Annelie Sjölander-Lindqvist (Social anthropology and Human Ecology) and Petra Adolfsson (Business Administration). Eliasson, professor, research includes urban/rural climatology and ecosystem services and she has long experience of project management in inter- and transdisciplinary projects and field work in Europe, Africa and Asia. Fredholm, PhD, current research focus on heritage planning and ecosystem services. Sjölander-Lindqvist, associate professor with experience from research on the management of contested natural resourced. Adolfsson, associate professor with long experience of studies of sustainability in public organisation settings. A communicator (Emma Sjöberg) will assist in communication with target groups. Two reference groups one for connection of the project to higher education and another for networking and popular science communication will be established.