Ecosystem services bundles: challenges and opportunities for implementation and further research

Nada Saidi (Lead / Corresponding author), Christopher Spray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)


Background: the concept of 'ecosystem services bundles', i.e. ecosystem services that repeatedly appear together across space and/or time, has been developed and refined as part of an integrated approach to assess interactions between ecosystem services. Nevertheless, published evidence of actual use of bundles in decision-making is lacking. In the light of this gap, a review of what bundle approaches have shown and what they can bring to decision-making is timely. Method: we conducted two separate systematic reviews. The first one addressed emerging issues within what we identify as the diverse utilisation and definition of the concept of 'bundle' in the literature. The second one focused on papers dealing with bundles as sets of consistently associated services. Review Synthesis: the review first highlights that the confusion surrounding the term 'bundle' in ecosystem services literature threatens to weaken the potential for analysis of bundles to inform decision-making. Then, thanks to the review of peer-reviewed papers that detect bundles as sets of consistently associated services, we analyse the diversity of methodological choices and we detail the interactions observed between different ecosystem services across the literature. We also show that landscape features, socio-economic conditions and institutional factors are all potential drivers for the occurrence of specific bundles in a landscape. Discussion: overall, it appears that the analysis of bundles provides an opportunity to enhance policy effectiveness. Nevertheless, the methodological challenges linked to the identification and interpretation of bundles call for careful and reflective study designs. We anticipate that this review will lead to a better understanding by scientists and practitioners of the potential for bundle studies to inform decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113001
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number11
Early online date3 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • bundles
  • ecosystem services
  • land use planning
  • natural resource management
  • synergies
  • systematic review
  • trade-offs


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