Getting the measure of ecosystem services: A social-ecological approach

Belinda Reyers, Reinette Biggs, Graeme S. Cumming, Thomas Elmqvist, Adam P. Hejnowicz, Stephen Polasky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

370 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Pages (from-to)268-273
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Getting the measure of ecosystem services: A social-ecological approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this