Considering and valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services in decision-making is known as taking an ‘ecosystems approach’. This training can be considered as a practical introduction to using an ecosystems approach in local planning. It gives a general introduction on key knowledge and skills and by sign-posting to a range of detailed resources, case-studies and further reading on specific topics such as communication, valuation and systematic thinking. Applying the knowledge and skills will differ according to the local situation, but the following aspects will almost always be part of the activities:
- Looking for opportunities to work with biodiversity to deliver planning objectives;
- Assessing the positive and negative impacts of the planning options on the services we get from biodiversity;
- Thinking long-term and large-scale;
- Thinking outside traditional planning boundaries;
- Carrying out some sort of valuation of the biodiversity and ecosystem services involved;
- Involving both the producers and beneficiaries of ecosystem services in the planning process.
Structure of the training course
This training consists of a number of modules which can be used in different combinations to accommodate to the needs, interests and time availability of the target audience:
- Prior to the course, the participants are invited to read through the handbook, which gives a detailed description of the six main subjects of the training outlined below.
- The subject matter is further developed during the lectures, in which the trainers teach about the six subjects in an interactive manner, highlighting the main messages from the handbook mainly through the use of practical examples and question and answer sessions.
- An excursion is organised as part of the full version of the course. Depending on the venue where the training is being held and the time available, cases included in the handbook or on the website may be visited. Otherwise, the trainer organises an excursion to an interesting site nearby. Guidelines are provided to make the programme of the excursion as relevant as possible to the training (e.g. by using the site as one of the cases in the working group.
- The working group brings together in a planning exercise the theoretical knowledge of the self-study and lectures and the practical experience gained during the excursion. A planning challenge involving biodiversity and ecosystem services is being addressed by the trainees in an interactive and participative way by working in small groups. Results are presented in plenary and discussed.
- Is an essential part of the course when the results of the training are assessed, in group (through a discussion moderated by the trainer) and individually (by filling out an evaluation form).
The full training package consists of the following resources and materials; all available on this website for downloading (the handbook is also available in printed format):
- Handbook: six thematic chapters.
- Trainer’s manual: it gives detailed instructions about how to prepare and deliver the training, including excursion and working groups.
- Lecture notes: these help the trainer prepare the lectures. Prompting the right questions and giving the information corresponding to each slide of the power point presentations in clear bullet points.
- PowerPoints: are visual aids to be used as a support for the lectures. They contain little text, but mostly photographs and graphs.
- Hand outs: pdfs of the PowerPoint presentations can be downloaded for distribution. However, if the PowerPoints are adapted, hand outs should be made of these.
- Evaluation form: to be distributed to the trainees at the end of the course.
- Website: offers all the information online and for downloading, plus many links to relevant sites and detailed case study descriptions.