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Ecosystem service assessments

This course will teach you the skills needed to perform ecosystem service assessments. During the course you will learn about ecosystem services, when and how to assess them, and their role in different policy and decision contexts.

This course will introduce the concept of ecosystem services and why there is a demand and need for ecosystem service assessments. Much of the course will focus on the practical steps of performing an ecosystem service assessment, including interpretation of results.

  • Course structure

    This course introduces the concept of ecosystem services and its current role in different decision-making contexts. The course will present a toolkit designed to provide practical guidance on performing ecosystem service assessments and thinking critically about ecosystem services. The assessment process is divided into six steps that focus on: 1. Defining the issue; 2. Identifying priority ecosystem services; 3. Identifying what needs to be evaluated to answer assessment questions; 4. Identifying and using indicators, data sources and methods; 5. Interpreting results; and 6. Communicating assessment outcomes. Finally, this course will cover the application of ecosystem service assessments to different policy contexts.

    The ecosystem service assessment skills and tools developed in this course are meant to be broadly applicable to many decision contexts and countries, but the course content will be informed in part by ecosystem service practice in Sweden.

    Teaching format

    The course will be held online. Class moments consist of lectures to introduce and discuss key topics and exercises. Attending and participating in lectures and exercises is mandatory. Students will prepare for class moments with readings and exercises.

    Learning outcomes

    A list of the learning outcomes can be found in the syllabus. Please find the link to the syllabus on the right side of this page.


    Demonstrated preparation for and participation in class moments will factor into each student’s final assessment. Students must demonstrate preparedness for class by having completed designated exercises and readings prior to class moments. Students must also actively participate in class by being present for all Zoom lectures and contributing to in-class discussions. Completion of the course’s exercises will be used to assess the student’s understanding of the course content. The final assessment will be based on participation in class moments and demonstrated understanding of course content through exercises. A 2-level grading scale will be used: pass/fail.


    Megan Meacham

    Kara Pellowe

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course reports

  • More information

    After the course

    This course will give the participants the tools to develop and execute ecosystem service assessments tailored to their institutional setting.

  • Meet us

    Meet our teachers

    Megan Meacham, Ph.D. has been working with ecosystem services for almost 10 years. She has focused on mapping and assessing ecosystem services at the regional and national scale in Sweden and connecting with other regions around the world. She is currently focusing on actors, ecosystem service flows and dynamics of urbanization. Megan is also the research coordinator for strategic research collaboration and postdoc program between the Stockholm Resilience Centre and The Natural  Capital Project at Stanford University, "Fundamental Research in Biosphere-based Sustainability Science". Megan previously coordinated the Programme on ecosystem change and society (PECS,, a collaborative research platform for long-term, in-depth case studies. Within PECS she help develop the working group on social-ecological dynamics of ecosystem services. Her motivation is making assessing ecosystem services accessible, feasible and useful.

    See Megan Meacham's profile page

    Kara Pellowe, Ph.D. has been involved in studies of ecosystem services for 5 years, with a focus on cataloguing and assessing the benefits generated from marine and coastal social-ecological systems. Currently, Kara uses modelling to analyse the ecosystem services generated by reef systems around the world, and to better understand how the unique social, ecological, and institutional contexts of reefs affect ecosystem service provisioning. She is particularly interested in improving assessments of less-tangible cultural ecosystem services, and increasing the use of holistic ecosystem service assessments to inform natural resource policy.

    See Kara Pellowe's profile page

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor (advanced level)