Assessment involves the analysis of evidence collected in the Survey stage. Ideally, all of the options emerging from the Ideas phase should be assessed in order to ensure a transparent decision-making process. The assumptions and limitations of any assessment techniques should be made explicit. Where possible, a mixed method approach should be used to improve triangulation. The results of this stage should indicate a clear pathway for the policy, project, plan or programme (PPPP).
- What is the state and value of the ecosystem services in the PPPP?
- Use the Ecosystem Mapping tool as a mechanism for the wider ecosystem assessment. Consider future value using the Futures Tools toolkit.
- What is the value of ecosystem services in the PPPP?
- Consider using an Ecosystem Assessment process.
- Where are the principal trade-offs between ecosystem services and other priorities?
- Consider using hotspot maps from Ecosystem Mapping techniques, followed by Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) and/or Multi-criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). These can be highly visual ways of showing data to your audiences.
- Where are the key ecosystem service opportunity spaces?
- Consider using composite maps of ecosystem services.
- Consider the potential of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes.
- What are the best available and accessible tools and techniques available for assessing your evidence?
- Consider Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) and/or Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA).
- Can a sustainability assessment matrix as required during a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process provide a useful mechanism to help with identifying an optimal option?
- What is best practice for assessing shared, plural and cultural values? Read the guide on integrating shared values into decisions
- What are the key lessons that you have learned during this stage?
- Keep a record of these for the Evaluate stage.
- What are the limitations of your survey evidence and what assumptions have you made?
- How are you going to manage any conflicting positions or trade-offs in your evidence so as to maximise environmental benefits in line with statutory policies and stakeholder needs?
- How are you going to decide on the preferred option, if relevant?
- Would it be valuable to involve stakeholders from previous stages as well as wider public(s) in your assessment processes?
- Who are you going to present your assessments to, and in what format?
- What are the key lessons emerging from the Ideas, Survey and Assess stages thus far? Use the suite of indicators developed in the Ideas phase to help.
Learn how a Payments for Ecosystem Services scheme in Exmoor National Park grew out of an analysis that water costs were more than offset by using a payments scheme for farmers upstream in river catchments