Multi-actor involvement for integrating ecosystem services in strategic environmental assessment of spatial plans

Integrating an ecosystem services (ES) approach into Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of spatial plans potentially enhances the consideration of the value of nature in decision making and policy processes. However, there is increasing concern about the institutional context and a lack of a common understanding of SEA and ecosystem services for adopting them as an integrated framework This paper addresses this concern by analysing the current understanding and network relations in a multi-actor arrangement as a first step towards a successful integration of ES in SEA and spatial planning. Our analysis focuses on a case study in Chile, where we administered a questionnaire survey to some of the main actors involved in the spatial-planning process. The questionnaire focused on issues such as network relations among actors and on conceptual understanding, perceptions and challenges for integrating ES in SEA and spatial planning, knowledge on methodological approaches, and the connections and gaps in the science policy interface. Our findings suggest that a common understanding of SEA and especially of ES in a context of multiple actors is still at an initial stage in Chile. Additionally, the lack of institutional guidelines and methodological support is considered the main challenge for integration. We conclude that preconditions exist in Chile for integrating ES in SEA for spatial planning, but they strongly depend on appropriate governance schemes that promote a dose science-policy interaction, as well as collaborative work and learning. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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