Does nature conservation enhance ecosystem services delivery?

A. Eastwood, R. Brooker, R. J. Irvine, R.R.E. Artz, L.R. Norton, J.M. Bullock, L. Ross, D. Fielding, S. Ramsay, J. Roberts, W. Anderson, D. Dugan, S. Cooksley, Robin J. Pakeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Whilst a number of studies have examined the effects of biodiversity conservation on the delivery of ecosystem services, they are often limited in the scope of the ecosystem services (ES) assessed and can suffer from confounding spatial issues. This paper examines the impacts of nature conservation on the delivery of a full suite of ES across nine case studies in the UK, using expert opinion. The case studies covered a range of habitats and explore the delivery of ES from a ‘protected site’ and a comparable ‘non-protected’ site. By conducting pair-wise comparisons of ES delivery between comparable sites our study attempts to mitigate confounding cause and effect factors in relation to spatial context in correlative studies. The analysis showed that protected sites deliver higher levels of ecosystem services than non-protected sites, with the main differences being in the cultural and regulating ecosystem services. Against expectations, there was no consistent negative impact of protection on provisioning services across these case studies. Whilst the analysis demonstrated general patterns in ES delivery between protected and non-protected sites, the individual responses in each case study highlights the importance of the local social, biophysical, economic and temporal context of individual protected areas and the associated management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date4 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • biodiversity conservation
  • conservation designation
  • ecosystem services
  • expert opinion
  • protected areas


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