The uptake of the ecosystem services concept in planning discourses of European and American cities
Journal article, 2015

Ecosystem services (ES) are gaining increasing attention as a promising concept to more actively consider and plan for the varied benefits of the urban environment. Yet, to have an impact on decision- making, the concept must spread from academia to practice. To understand how ES have been taken up in planning discourses we conducted a cross-case comparison of planning documents in Berlin, New York, Salzburg, Seattle and Stockholm. We found: (1) explicit references to the ES concept were primarily in documents from Stockholm and New York, two cities in countries that entered into ES discourses early. (2) Implicit references and thus potential linkages between the ES concept and planning discourses were found frequently among all cities, especially in Seattle. (3) The thematic scope, represented by 21 different ES, is comparably broad among the cases, while cultural services and habitat provision are most frequently emphasized. (4) High-level policies were shown to promote the adoption of the ES concept in planning. We find that the ES concept holds potential to strengthen a holistic consideration of urban nature and its benefits in planning. We also revealed potential for further development of ES approaches with regard to mitigation of environmental impacts and improving urban resilience.


Ecosystem services

Human-nature relations

Urban planning




Rieke Hansen

Technical University of Munich

Niki Frantzeskaki

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Timon McPhearson

The New School University

Emiliy Rall

Technical University of Munich

Nadja Kabisch

Humboldt University of Berlin

Anna Kaczorowska

Chalmers, Architecture

Jaan-Henrik Kain

Chalmers, Architecture

Martina Artmann

Paris Lodron University of Salzburg

Stephan Pauleit

Technical University of Munich

Ecosystem Services

2212-0416 (ISSN)

Vol. 12 228-246

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Other Social Sciences



More information

Latest update

8/1/2018 1