Perceptions of the ecosystem services concept: opportunities and challenges in the Swedish municipal context

Thomas Beery, Sanna Stålhammar, Ingemar Jönsson, Christine Wamsler, Torleif Bramryd, Ebba Brink, Nils Ekelund, Michael Johansson, Thomas Palo, Per Schubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


A current focus of ecosystem services (ES) implementation is on the municipal level of government where international and national legislation and policies have to be translated into practice. Given this focus, an understanding of perceptions within municipalities of the ES concept is crucial to support the implementation process. Against this background, this paper examines the perceptions of Swedish municipal stakeholders for the ES concept. A 2013 Swedish federal mandate that states that the values of ecosystem services should be considered in relevant decision-making processes, provides a timely context. Current perceptions, preconditions and awareness are explored via interviews and analyses. The results show that the views on the ecosystem services concept and its usefulness are generally very positive. Conceptual knowledge use is perceived as important as is the recognition of monetary valuation of ES. However, clarification of the distinction between implicit and explicit use of the concept by stakeholders is needed. Finally, results indicate that a deeper understanding of monetary valuation of ecosystem services by municipal staff members is connected with a more critical view on monetary valuation. It is concluded that detailed and clear definitions and guidelines are needed in order to support the process of implementing ES in municipalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages7
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Environmental Sciences (10502)


  • Ecosystem services
  • municipalities
  • perceptions


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