If we look back from 2020 and describe the success of the ESP Thematic Working Group 3 on indicators, which indicator shall we use; number of organised sessions, number of joint synthesis and review papers or perhaps the number of workshops on specific topics? You are more than welcome to have an impact on that question, to collaborate and to contribute to the success of TWG3.
We, Alexander van Oudenhoven (Leiden University) and Matthias Schröter (UFZ / iDIV) are young, but long-serving members of ESP – and agreed in 2016 to take over the working group lead from Felix Müller. Below are what we think are key questions and envisioned outputs of this important working group.
Is what you measure is what you get?
Indicators play a key role in any ecosystem service assessment and the communication of their results. Indicators are, or should be, a crucial part of our methods and can serve many different purposes, be it mapping and modelling, valuing, biophysical quantification, scenario development or (inter) national ecosystem assessments. Regardless of the purpose, one returning question is “What are we really measuring with the indicators we use – is what we measure what we get?”
In this light, key questions for ecosystem service indicators include:
- What is an optimal indicator and what is the difference between optimal indicators and the indicator we actually use?
- How to measure different components of the ecosystem service process or ‘cascade’:
- Ecology / biophysical aspects: measuring
- Service provision and use: modelling, combining suits of indicators and inputs
- Socio-economic aspects: surveys, statistics, participatory methods
- What are appropriate criteria for indicator selection, depending on the assessment purpose?
- Which indicators are likely to be used by the intended end-user, and what determines this uptake?
Envisioned activities and outputs
Why do we need a working group and what do we see as a working group? This group has always had a long list of interested people, but we think constituting a working group should go beyond e-mails sent by a few individuals and being digested by group members. We envision active collaboration, both during and outside of ESP conferences, for instance through:
- Organising workshop sessions with equal time for presentations and discussion / co-writing / sharing. A very successful double session was organised during ESP regional conference in Antwerp (September 20th 2016). The session featured well-prepared and well-structured presentations (only 10) and a vivid discussion of 45 minutes at the end.
- Organising workshops and seminars outside ESP conferences on specific topics (e.g. criteria, NEAs, specific geographical regions)
- Conducting structured, combined reviews and/or meta-analyses on above-mentioned questions, especially on ‘What are we really measuring?’ and ‘Which information is used, and what determines this uptake?’
- Writing reflection / position papers or commentaries. A viewpoint paper will be submitted in October 2017, a paper that is the result of the above-mentioned TWG3 session during the 2016 ESP conference.
- Sharing knowledge – providing overviews of recent and key publications and project outputs or initiatives with strong focus on indicators
- Setting up a list server to facilitate participatory communication
- Hold webinars