Ecosystem Services from Scientist and Non-scientist Perspectives

Dialogue for a More Sustainable Land Use

In this essay I would like to share the personal experiences I gained from engaging non-scientist experts in my research. My main scientific interest focuses on the socio-cultural valuation of ecosystem services, referring to the tangible and intangible benefits nature provides to society. Ecosystem services stand at the border of the ’natural’ and the ’social’ – they are created by natural processes and enjoyed by humans, moreover their provisioning is more and more dependent on human actions that jeopardize or maintain the good status of ecosystems. Therefore, understanding how people perceive, think about and value ecosystem services is an inevitable part of this research direction. Involving local, non-scientist experts – such as farmers, foresters and other resource users – in my work was a key principle for me since I started doing research, but how such partnerships can be formed and which roles can be shared was an important lesson I have learnt from project to project. Th is essay gives insights into this learning process; it describes how the extent and form of involvement have changed, and sheds light on the fact that solving one challenge always creates a new one for the researcher.

Released: Replika 100, 55–59.