Guide to identifying ecosystem services in protected areas | WWF
Guide to identifying ecosystem services in protected areas

Posted on 10 December 2020

New technical guide describes how to run a participatory, consensus-led evaluation of ecosystem services, bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders.
What kinds of ecosystem services does a national park or a nature reserve provide? Protected area managers are expected to know. There are many ways of finding out, from remote sensing to field research. All are useful, but also expensive, time consuming and do not generally provide a way for people living in the area to give an opinion.

A new tool from the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Protected Area Benefits Assessment Tool plus (PA-BAT+) is a workshop-driven approach involving collaboration with local stakeholders to identify the benefits from a protected area. It uses a standard set of questions to identify and assess the level of importance and distribution of current and potential ecosystem services ranging from tourism, through water security and disaster risk reduction, to cultural and spiritual benefits. The tool focuses on the legal use of resources which do not undermine conservation. Open discussion identifies any additional benefits, problems and suggestions. Managers hear the views of stakeholders and different community members have a chance to share ideas and experiences. 

It can be applied to other sites as well, like forest management units or grazing lands. It builds on the original PA-BAT, developed by WWF a decade ago, with substantial guidance on implementation after extensive use around the world and increasing the participatory element of the assessment. 

Local stakeholders don’t necessarily know everything – they may underestimate the importance of global goods like climate stabilisation – but they often know things that no outside “expert” can hope to understand. Identifying the wider benefits of conservation also reassures governments that biodiversity conservation is not simply wasted space and helps donor agencies to plan associated projects.

The PA-BAT+ has been used in five continents, case studies are included from the Western Balkans countries in Europe, Turkey, Colombia, USA and Myanmar.

Ivanić, K-Z., Stolton, S., Figueroa Arango, C. and Dudley, N. (2020). Protected Areas Benefits Assessment Tool + (PA-BAT+): A tool to assess local stakeholder perceptions of the flow of benefits from protected areas. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. xii + 84 pp. https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/49081What kinds of ecosystem services does a national park or a nature reserve provide? Protected area managers are expected to know. There are many ways of finding out, from remote sensing to field research. All are useful, but also expensive, time consuming and do not generally provide a way for people living in the area to give an opinion.


A new tool from the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Protected Area Benefits Assessment Tool plus (PA-BAT+) is a workshop-driven approach involving collaboration with local stakeholders to identify the benefits from a protected area. It uses a standard set of questions to identify and assess the level of importance and distribution of current and potential ecosystem services ranging from tourism, through water security and disaster risk reduction, to cultural and spiritual benefits. The tool focuses on the legal use of resources which do not undermine conservation. Open discussion identifies any additional benefits, problems and suggestions. Managers hear the views of stakeholders and different community members have a chance to share ideas and experiences. 

It can be applied to other sites as well, like forest management units or grazing lands. It builds on the original PA-BAT, developed by WWF a decade ago, with substantial guidance on implementation after extensive use around the world and increasing the participatory element of the assessment. 

Local stakeholders don’t necessarily know everything – they may underestimate the importance of global goods like climate stabilisation – but they often know things that no outside “expert” can hope to understand. Identifying the wider benefits of conservation also reassures governments that biodiversity conservation is not simply wasted space and helps donor agencies to plan associated projects.

The PA-BAT+ has been used in five continents, case studies are included from the Western Balkans countries in Europe, Turkey, Colombia, USA and Myanmar.

Ivanić, K-Z., Stolton, S., Figueroa Arango, C. and Dudley, N. (2020). Protected Areas Benefits Assessment Tool + (PA-BAT+): A tool to assess local stakeholder perceptions of the flow of benefits from protected areas. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. xii + 84 pp. https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/49081