Getting the measure of ecosystem services: a social–ecological approach

Adam Peter Hejnowicz, Belinda Reyers, Thomas Elmqvist, Reinette Biggs, Graeme Cumming, Stephen Polasky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite growing interest and investment in ecosystem services across global science and policy arenas, it remains unclear how ecosystem services – and particularly changes in those services – should be measured. The social and ecological factors, and their interactions, that create and alter ecosystem services are inherently complex. Measuring and managing ecosystem services requires a sophisticated systems-based approach that accounts for how these services are generated by interconnected social–ecological systems (SES), how different services interact with each other, and how changes in the total bundle of services influence human well-being (HWB). Furthermore, there is a need to understand how changes in HWB feedback and affect the generation of ecosystem services. Here, we outline an SES-based approach for measuring ecosystem services and explore its value for setting policy targets, developing indicators, and establishing monitoring and assessment programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-273
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

Cite this