This suite of six case studies was commissioned to address a perceived gap in the literature. The ecosystem approach and in particular, the concept of ecosystem services is gaining momentum in policy circles (see for example the recent Natural Environment White Paper and new England Biodiversity Strategy). However, practical application of the ecosystem approach lags behind these aspirations, largely due to uncertainty about how to implement the approach and the value of doing so. In addition to tools and guidance to help practitioners, we believe that case studies are a powerful communication tool, allowing others to see how concepts have been adopted and highlighting potential for their own particular situations.
There are few examples of the ecosystem approach in practice in a UK context and hence most existing case studies are retrospective studies of projects viewed from an ecosystems approach perspective. The Natural England led Ecosystem Services Pilots (Delivering Natures Services) are an attempt to approach land and water management through the ecosystems approach and are demonstration project for upland situations. The six case studies described in this report are intended to complement the pilots by providing an insight into how ecosystem services might be viewed in lowland and urban-fringe contexts. The case studies were also selected to add value to an existing suite of Environment Agency case studies which are focused on river and coastal projects.