Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats: A SWOT analysis of the ecosystem services framework

Bull, J.W.; Jobstvogt, N.; Böhnke-Henrichs, A.; Mascarenhas, A.; Sitas, N.; Baulcomb, C.; Lambini, C.K.; Rawlings, M.; Baral, H.; Zähringer, Julie; Carter-Silk, E.; Balzan, M.V.; Kenter, J.O.; Häyhä, T.; Petz, K.; Koss, P. (2016). Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats: A SWOT analysis of the ecosystem services framework. Ecosystem services, 17, pp. 99-111. Elsevier 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.11.012

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The ecosystem services concept (ES) is becoming a cornerstone of contemporary sustainability thought. Challenges with this concept and its applications are well documented, but have not yet been systematically assessed alongside strengths and external factors that influence uptake. Such an assessment could form the basis for improving ES thinking, further embedding it into environmental decisions and management. The Young Ecosystem Services Specialists (YESS) completed a Strengths–Weaknesses–Opportunities–Threats (SWOT) analysis of ES through YESS member surveys. Strengths include the approach being interdisciplinary, and a useful communication tool. Weaknesses include an incomplete scientific basis, frameworks being inconsistently applied, and accounting for nature's intrinsic value. Opportunities include alignment with existing policies and established methodologies, and increasing environmental awareness. Threats include resistance to change, and difficulty with interdisciplinary collaboration. Consideration of SWOT themes suggested five strategic areas for developing and implementing ES. The ES concept could improve decision-making related to natural resource use, and interpretation of the complexities of human-nature interactions. It is contradictory – valued as a simple means of communicating the importance of conservation, whilst also considered an oversimplification characterised by ambiguous language. Nonetheless, given sufficient funding and political will, the ES framework could facilitate interdisciplinary research, ensuring decision-making that supports sustainable development.

Item Type: Journal Article (Original Article)
Division/Institute: 10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)
Graduate School: International Graduate School North-South (IGS North-South)
UniBE Contributor: Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin
ISSN: 2212-0416
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: [424] Landscape change, stakeholder demands for ecosystem services, and resulting trade-offs in north-eastern Madagascar
Language: English
Submitter: Melissa Hofstetter
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2016 15:53
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2016 17:02
Publisher DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.11.012
BORIS DOI: 10.7892/boris.75514
URI: http://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/75514

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