Mapping the demand for ecosystem services (ES) has received increased attention in scientific research and is seen as a relevant tool to inform conservation planning, land use planning and management. Yet, there is a varying understanding of the concept of ES demand, which has implications on how and where ES demand is being mapped. In this paper we review the current conceptual understanding of ES demand, indicators to measure demand and the approaches used to quantify and map demand. We identified four distinct "demand types", which relate to different ecosystem service categories. These demand types include demand expressed in terms of (1) risk reduction, (2) preferences and values, (3) direct use or (4) consumption of goods and services. Each of the demand types was linked to specific methods applied in the reviewed literature. We found that operationalization of ES demand in policy, planning and management requires a more consistent understanding and definition of ES demand, its drivers and its temporal dynamics. Furthermore, the impact of demands for multiple ecosystem services on land use change needs to be investigated. This will allow for the consideration of temporal and cross-level interactions between supply and demand of ecosystem services and its impacts in land use change modelling.