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Ecosystem services assessments in local municipal decision making in South Africa: justification for the use of a business-based approach

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The ecosystem services (ES) concept is being increasingly incorporated into environmental policy formulation and management approaches. The Corporate Ecosystem Services Review (ESR) is a framework used to assess the dependence and impact that a business has on ES. The success of the corporate experience of ES assessment provides an opportunity for adaption for local authority decision making. In this paper, the ESR tool was adapted to the South African setting at a local government level, and tested at two sites in the Msunduzi Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal. In testing the tool and gathering feedback from key stakeholders, it was found that there are both opportunities and challenges to this approach. Overall, however, it provides an opportunity for the systematic inclusion of ES assessment into existing regulatory frameworks for land-use planning and Integrated Environmental Management, whether in a strategic application, at a broader spatial (municipal) scale or in a specific locale within the municipality.
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Keywords: decision making; ecosystem services assessment; integrated environmental management; land-use planning; natural capital

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Discipline of Geography, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg Campus), Scottsville, South Africa

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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