This article in the journal Cities assesses pathways for integrating the ecosystem services concept into American land use and environmental planning. Ecosystem services are the beneficial products that functioning ecosystems provide to human society. Building on Ian McHarg's influential ecological planning work, the authors argue that ecosystem service-based planning frameworks may improve our understanding of the consequences of planned actions in urban-ecological systems. Using evaluations of four diverse and innovative comprehensive plans, the article examines how ecosystem services information can enhance plan specificity, investment strategies, and prioritization for policy implementation. Finally, it presents a research agenda for evaluating how the use of ecosystem services in planning could improve assessment and communication of planning tradeoffs and outcomes.
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions