Benefits of Stakeholder integration in an ecosystem services assessment of Mount Carmel Biosphere Reserve, Israel

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Ecosystem services (ES) assessments have become ubiquitous tools for informing land-use management. Stakeholder integration is crucial for assuring the societal relevance and potential impact of these assessments. While advocating stakeholder integration is prevalent, it is less common in practice and there is uncertainty regarding whether stakeholders perceive ES assessments as effective for addressing land-use management challenges. We use a transdisciplinary approach to integrate stakeholders in an ES assessment conducted in the Mount Carmel Biosphere Reserve (BR) in Israel and explore how stakeholders perceived the utility of the ES knowledge produced. The integration was done at three phases during the assessment: (1) a stakeholder analysis, followed by semi-structured interviews (2) focus group discussions and (3) stakeholder workshops to discuss the results. Thematic analysis of interviews, discussions and workshops revealed that stakeholders perceive ES knowledge as an effective conceptual tool to educate and raise public awareness, strategic tool to advance pre-existing plans/actions/policies, and instrumental tool to influence decision-makers, recruit funding and increase management focus on cultural services. We conclude that the ES assessment may strengthen the standing of stakeholders and assist them in overcoming BR management challenges. Importantly, the assessment process catalyzed partnerships among stakeholders and between scientists and stakeholders, which continued after the assessment concluded. As a boundary object, the ES assessment contributed to reviving a conflicted BR by bringing an ostensibly neutral scientific discourse to the table.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101404
JournalEcosystem Services
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Knowledge use
  • Nature conservation conflicts
  • Socio-ecological research
  • Stakeholder perceptions
  • Thematic analysis
  • Transdisciplinary

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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