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Integration of ecosystem services in strategic environmental assessment across spatial planning scales
- Rozas-Vásquez, Daniel, Fürst, Christine, Geneletti, Davide, Almendra, Osvaldo
- Land use policy 2018 v.71 pp. 303-310
- case studies, decision making, ecosystem services, environmental assessment, planning, stakeholders, supply balance, Chile
- Spatial planning is a key policy instrument for decision-making which drives future changes to land systems, and subsequently to the quality, quantity and spatial distribution of ecosystem services (ES). Supply and demand of ES vary from local to regional and global scales affecting a wide range of stakeholders. Therefore, a strategic analysis of the potential impacts is highly relevant. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is considered a suitable instrument for analyzing these impacts as well as for integrating ES during the planning process given its focus on sustainability and environmental aspects at strategic levels. However, an essential task consists of testing the applicability of the SEA-ES framework in real-world spatial planning. The objective of this research is to explore how ES have been considered in the development of spatial plans at different scales by considering a sample of SEA reports. We focused on a case study in Chile, where we conducted a content analysis of different stages of the SEA process at regional, inter-municipal and municipal planning scales. Our results demonstrate that ES were always present across each SEA stage and planning scale. Additionally, we suggest a relation between specific ES and the scope and focus of the different spatial planning instruments. Although ES are clearly necessary for achieving a number of development objectives and dealing with a range of environmental problems, a critical aspect is the lack of an explicit consideration which might decrease the potential advantages offered by the integrated framework SEA-ES.