Utilizing ecosystem service classifications in multi-criteria decision analysis – Experiences of peat extraction case in Finland

Jyri Mustajoki, Heli Saarikoski, Valerie Belton, Turo Hjerppe, Mika Marttunen

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The Ecosystem Service concept is a widely used framework to examine the links between the functioning of ecosystems and human well-being. There is a broad range of ecosystem services, which are often classified hierarchically as provisioning, regulating and cultural services. Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), an approach for analyzing complex problems that involve trade-offs between multiple objectives, has increasingly been applied in the ecosystem service context. In MCDA, a problem is typically represented hierarchically as a value tree, which resembles the hierarchical structure of the ecosystem service classifications. However, in practice, there are several potential pitfalls that could distort the analysis, if some commonly used ecosystems service classification was directly used as the basis of an MCDA value tree. In this paper, we discuss these potential pitfalls and how to avoid them. Our discussion is illustrated with experience from a case study focusing on the ecosystem services provided by the peatlands in Finland
Original languageEnglish
Article number101049
Number of pages11
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA)
  • ecosystem system classifications
  • ES
  • value trees
  • decision analysis and support

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