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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

Ecosystem services: never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis

The idea of ecosystem services is a nice one, but what is it good for? How can the concept become good in practice? Where? When? And is it a good concept after all? Should we think the concept big or small, narrow or wide? Anyone working with ecosystem services has been exposed to these questions by co-academics, by policy makers, nature organisations, businesses, students, friends, relatives… Many of us do have answers, but giving a comprehensive understanding of issues is sometimes difficult, or at least frustrating. Marion Potschin, Roy Haines-Young, Robert Fish and R. Kerry Turner as editors have tackled this huge task by pulling together more than 50 essays into a Routledge Handbook on Ecosystem Services.

Today, new books are coming out like mushrooms in the rain while simultaneously new knowledge is made available through many other media, as well, including digital tools. All knowledge is interesting as such, but due to the overflow, we need to prioritize our readings. One might even question whether a book of the traditional form is worth publishing or reading anymore. I would say, it depends on the book. Personally I have three criteria to answer this question. The book needs to bring novel ideas, contribute to a broader societal and/or academic discussion and the contributors need to show excellence in what they are writing.

...in my ratings, this textbook by Potschin and her co-editors fills the criteria and will make an important contribution to the societal and academic debates on ecosystem services.

By having a chance to peek into the book, in my ratings, the textbook by Potschin and her co-editors fills the criteria and will make an important contribution to the societal and academic debates on ecosystem services. The handbook sets the scene with an introduction to ecosystem services concepts and frameworks, then moves to methods and techniques for decision support, brings interesting looks into the settings in various geographical contexts, and finally links ecosystem services with major agendas of today. The book closes with analyses of future role of ecosystem services.  

Marion Potschin and her co-editors have succeeded to get an interesting combination of contributors to this book, including highly distinguished scientists from various disciplines to younger scholars who are presently carrying out seminal research in the field of ecosystem services and beyond. Researchers of OpenNESS are well represented among the contributors, not the least by having two of the editors from the project, but also by bringing content to all chapters of the book as authors – altogether 20 from OpenNESS. And even beyond that, the discussions in OpenNESS project have inspired the development of the book, to quote Marion Potschin in the acknowledgements.

Once you have digested the book, you can start to wait for the forthcoming contribution of OpenNESS: the 2017 special issue which will answer those questions that still remained open.

By looking at the coin from the other side, one can say that the development of the book has also been a driver of the development taking place in OpenNESS which takes the academic discussions on the ground: to everyday practices where ecosystem services are used, or meant to be used. The 27 place-based case studies of OpenNESS will eventually bring solid understanding and tools tested on the ground on many of the issues discussed in the Routledge Textbook on Ecosystem Services. Once you have digested the book, you can start to wait for the forthcoming contribution of OpenNESS: the 2017 special issue which will answer those questions that still remained open.

The book is now available as a hardcopy via: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138025080/ or you can contact us.

The OpenNESS partners involved are: David N. Barton, Pam Berry, Dolf de Groot, Guy Duke, Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Robert Dunford, Roy Haines-Young, Jennifer Hauck, Paula A. Harrison, Kurt Jax, Hans Keune Conor E. Kretsch, Camino Liquete, Sandra Luque, Joachim Maes, Berta Martín-López, Marion Potschin, Eeva Primmer (+ OpenNESS international advisory board: Kai M. A. Chan, Mark Rounsevell and Davide Geneletti)