Stock photo of an outdoor meeting at Boulder Peak, Colorado.

By Caitlin Hinson, Jimmy O’Keeffe, Ana Mijic, John Bryden, Jessica van Grootveld, and Alexandra Collins.

Read the article here.

In the UK and around the world there are policy directives to include benefits from nature, often called ‘ecosystem services’, ‘natural capital’ or ‘nature’s contribution to people’ in environmental management to ensure the supply of assets, services and resources continues to contribute to our economy and wellbeing. There is also a demand to include multiple stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds, professional areas and perspectives to further strengthen representation and expertise in environmental planning. To carry out these planning and decision-making tasks effectively, we need evidence of how benefits from nature can be used within collaborative environmental planning and decision making. This research therefore seeks to understand how stakeholders participate in collaborative planning and decision making around the benefits of nature by looking at different methods for engaging stakeholders.

In this paper we reviewed existing case studies and found five main clusters of stakeholder engagement methods: discussion based, tool based, ranking and scoring, mapping and game style. We also find a wide variety of situations and environments where these methods are applied and a selection of data sources, including numeric, spatial and observational. All studies included small group discussions with at least three groups of stakeholders.

The results show it is more common for benefits from nature that relate to food, water and tourism to be included in planning, over cultural and non-tangible benefits. Very few of the articles included an evaluation of their methods, and therefore did not specifically test the contribution of combining benefits from nature concepts with collaborative decision making. We recommend further investigation of how to evaluate the role of benefits of nature in decision making