Integrating ecosystem and urban services in policy-making at the local scale: The SOFA framework

Sara Antognelli, Marco Vizzari*, Catharina J.E. Schulp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Despite ecosystem services having been broadly studied in the scientific literature, they are still hardly integrated in policy-making and landscape management. The lack of operative tools for their application is a main limiting factor of such operationalization. In this work, a framework including 53 livability services produced by the biophysical and socioeconomic subsystem, or by their interaction, was developed considering a local study area. All the services were characterized in terms of the need to access their Service Benefiting Areas (SBAs, the geographical units where the services benefit consumers) from the Use Regions (URs, the usual location of users). Moreover, the Service-Providing Areas (SPAs, the geographical unit where the service is produced) were also classified and characterized. Such analysis, together with empirical observations, helped to classify the spatial relationships between the SPAs, SBAs and URs of each service. In addition to a list of detailed information about all the services included in the framework, a visual scheme representing the different SBA types and an operational flow diagram synthesizing the spatial organization of service flow were designed to apply the methodology in other study areas. Two examples show the practical applicability in policy-making of the whole framework for supporting different aspects of local decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1017
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2018


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme235175


    • Decision support
    • Ecosystem and urban services
    • Ecosystem service flow
    • Landscape services
    • Livability
    • Policy-making


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