Indicators and Objectives TWG 3

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 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 and to collaborate.
Partly due to overlaps with other working groups, TWG 3 has been relatively inactive so far, but this is going to change!  We, Alexander van Oudenhoven (Leiden University) and Matthias Schröter (UFZ / iDIV) – young, but long-term members of ESP – have agreed to take over the working group lead from Felix Müller and would like to present the key questions and envisioned outputs of this important group on ecosystem services indicators.

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 a good 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?

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. 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 during the upcoming ESP regional conference in Antwerp (September 19-23th, 2016, proposal submitted!)
  • 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?’
  • Writing reflection / position papers or commentaries
  • 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