Ask Oppla question by han.vandevyvere

I'm consulting on sustainable urban planning (brownfield redevelopment, greenfield development) and I need to convince both local authorities and developers to take into account ecosystem services & values. How do I localize the most suitable strategies and tools 'to pull these actors into the bath'? Thank you!


Although I work mainly at the European level, we are running a pilot study now where we work together with 10 cities in Europe to collect their experiences. In fact, the city of Trento in Italy has a case like yours: redevelopment of brownfield into green infrastructure. The University of Trento is in charge (Davide Geneletti) for the project. It would be worth contacting him. Together with the city council they looked for the best solutions and scenarios to restore degraded sites in the city with the objective to increase the impact of cooling by urban forest for a maximum number of people. Key was the co-design process of the project with researchers AND the city administration. Info at:

Posted on: 3 Mar 2016 - 12:15

First step is context. A good first step would be to get information at a wider scale on time and space. Land use change around the brownfield- greenfield can easily point out the Ecosystem Services most needed. For example, brownfields on the metropolitan area of Barcelona frequently appear on areas with an evident lack of open landscapes as grasslands. Agricultural land abandonment has led to a generalized forest encroachment. So, constructing grassland landscapes constitute a nature-based solution which could provide big quantities of different ecosystem services : improved biodiversity, vulnerable species enhancement, pollinators, aesthetic values, etc.

Posted on: 3 Mar 2016 - 14:16

In brief: I'd recommend open dialogue, stakeholder engagement, training and sharing of experiences between peers.

Posted on: 3 Mar 2016 - 16:16

In our work (we are a consultancy) we use a customized sustainable return on investment (SROI) approach to assess the associated benefits of preserving a specific ecosystem (e.g. wetlands).

Based on experience the simpler the tool, the better for stakeholders to understand and consider a proposal to account for ecosystem services. It is not perfect, however it is enough to drive concrete actions on behalf of the stakeholders.

Another obstacle to having a successful dialogue with non-experts on the topic of ES could be the level of complexity of methods and tools described in scientific literature. In OPERAs, a tool on stakeholder interaction is developed by the University of Edinburgh which might be helpful to facilitate the conversations.

Posted on: 4 Mar 2016 - 12:17