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Ecosystem service valuation in a governance debate: Practitioners' strategic argumentation on forestry in northern Finland

Sarkki, Simo, Karjalainen, Timo P.
Ecosystem services 2015 v.16 pp. 13-22
business enterprises, ecosystem services, entrepreneurship, forestry, governance, land use, nongovernmental organizations, ownership, reindeer, stakeholders, tourism, Finland
To better understand the links between ecosystem service (ES) valuation and governance, we examine how local-level practitioners (i.e. the state forestry enterprise, tourism entrepreneurs, reindeer herders, a local NGO and a local hunting association) performed ES valuation through argumentation to promote certain interests in practical governance in the context of a forestry debate in northern Finland. Our case shows that monetary valuations may escalate disputes instead of providing neutral information. Furthermore, increasing transparency could be useful in gaining an understanding of the links between the (strategic) partiality of knowledge production and perceived ES values and trade-offs across stakeholder groups; this could also lead to a common view on various ES values and governance solutions. On the other hand, the stakeholders were eager to identify various benefits at diverse spatial and temporal scales in a strategic manner to defend or oppose prevailing land-use practises and ownership. However, while the positive identification and measurement of ESs is relevant, attention should also be paid to the practises of denying and questioning certain ES values. This is crucial to better understand how stakeholders perform ES valuations through argumentation and by this means shape and construct the governance options for and against particular ESs.