Protecting Ecosystem Services Makes Business Sense

By following the seven steps of the Ecosystem Services Procedure, forest managers demonstrate how their management practices conserve or restore valuable forest ecosystem services. Once these positive impacts are verified by an FSC accredited certification body, the resulting ecosystem services claims can be used to tell impact stories about the forest and attract financial and non-monetary benefits. 

Victor Fidelis Sentosa / WWF Indonesia

7 Steps


Select the ecosystem services that you want to demonstrate a positive impact for

What ecosystem services do we protect? 

Recreational services


Describe the selected ecosystem service

Current and past condition, beneficiaries, threats etc.


Choose an impact and develop a theory of change

Do we want to maintain, conserve, restore or enhance the ecosystem services? What management activities do we think contribute to this?

Choose the specific impact from Annex B of the Ecosystem Services Procedure and build a so-called Theory of Change: a diagram explaining how your forest management activities are expected to achieve the selected impact.


Determine what you need to measure to demonstrate the selected impact

Which outcomes do we need to measure to indicate maintenance, conservation, restoration or enhancement of the ecosystem services? 

Select an outcome indicator, e.g. natural forest cover, lever of disturbance, water turbidity etc.


Determine how you are going to measure the selected impact 

How will we measure the ecosystem service indicators? In other words: what methodology are we going to use? 

Select a methodology. See suggestions in FSC-GUI-30-006


Measure the indicators and make a comparison

Measure and determine what comparison you need to use for your measurement.

Compare with previous values, reference site or credible description of natural condition.


Draw a conclusion based on your measurement and the comparison to see whether you successfully demonstrated a positive impact

Results: did we maintain, conserve, restore or enhance the ecosystem services? 

YES? Congratulations, once the certification body verifies your impact, you can use ecosystem services claims.

NO? Go back to Step 3 and reconsider your theory of change, you may need to change your management activities.


Successful use of the Ecosystem Services Procedure

The FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure has been successfully implemented in FSC certified forests all over the world. Forest managers adopt various business models to get an added benefit from demonstrating the positive impacts of their forest management practices on ecosystem services.

  1. Forestal Arauco S. A. offering recreational services in Chile

    People in Forest

    Forest Management:
    Large forest plantation company, FSC certified since 2013

    Ecosystem Services:
    Verified positive impacts on recreational services

    Business Model:
    Improved stakeholder relationships and brand image

    Forest Impact Story:

    Forestal Arauco S.A. is a major forest plantation company in South America. In Chile, it manages over 1 million hectares and is FSC certified since 2013. In line with its corporate social responsibility policy, Arauco set aside 2,481 ha for preservation and recreational purposes in one of the last bits of Selva Valdiviana Costera.

    Parque Oncol, as it was called, is an evergreen mixed and highly endemic forest, hosting 90 species of animals and 89 plant species. There are also panoramic views of surrounding beaches, valleys, Andes mountains and volcanoes.

    All these factors make it a popular spot for recreation and ecotourism.

    Between 2011 and 2018, the surface of the park designated for tourism grew three-fold (from 754 ha to 2,481 ha), and the number of visitors was boosted from around 12 to over 18 thousand. Meanwhile, tourist infractions, accidents and non-permitted activities in the area decreased through the promotion of public awareness activities, and tourism infrastructure was expanded. Sightings of certain key species have also increased, such as the Puma Concolor and the Great Andean Fox. Arauco is further tackling threats such as invasive species and fires.

    Girl in Forest

    Using the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure, Arauco successfully demonstrated the positive impacts of their efforts on: maintenance/conservation of areas of importance for recreation and/or ecotourism (ES5.1) and maintenance/conservation of populations of species of interest for nature-based tourism (ES5.3).


    Juan Andrés Anzieta, Head of Environmental Management and Community Engagement at Arauco, sums up the experience in one sentence: “Thanks to FSC’s Ecosystem Service Procedure we now have the tools to measure, verify and communicate about the positive impacts of our management practices to protect this unique forest and its biodiversity, while inviting visitors to enjoy its beauty.” 



  2. Waldplus GmbH demonstrated positive impacts on all five ecosystem services in Italy


    Forest Management:
    Group certification,
    FSC certified since 2014

    Ecosystem services:           
    Verified positive impacts on carbon sequestration and storage, biodiversity conservation, watershed services, soil conservation, and recreational services

    Business Model:                  
    Financial sponsorship by various companies

    Forest Impact Story:

    WaldPlus, a group of 33 members managing over 1,000 ha of forest spanning between the regions of Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto and Lombardy, in Italy, has successfully demonstrated positive impacts on all five ecosystem services: biodiversity, carbon, water, soil and recreational services.



    Using a demand-based approach, ETIFOR, a spin-off consultancy from the University of Padua and expert in ecosystem services sales, found investors looking to create a positive impact on forests, the climate and other ecosystem services. For example, the glass-only bottling water company Levico Acque is generating positive climate impacts restoring FSC certified forests that result in the capture and conservation of carbon.

    People Running in Forest

    Every citizen and company can today support the growth of new trees and better forest management of the WaldPus forests directly at the website WOWnature.

    “We scientifically calculate how useful trees are for our lives and how their services can generate an economic return for forest owners. Thanks to FSC certification we can now guarantee that these benefits are visible and quantifiable” stated Lucio Brotto, Sustainable Investments Director at Etifor.

    Elmar Gruber, WaldPlus group manager, added that “This achievement gives the right recognition to forest managers who are committed to responsible management practices.”

    See an overview of institutions financially supporting Waldplus here.

  3. KMPH Mitra Sesaot demonstrated positive impacts on watershed restoration on Lombok, Indonesia

    Man drinking water at waterfall

    Forest Management:

    Community-managed forest,
    FSC certified since 2017

    Ecosystem Services:

    Verified positive impacts on watershed services

    Business Model:                  

    Payments for ecosystem services by water users

    Forest Impact Story:

    On the island of Lombok, Indonesia, past forest degradation in the Jangkok watershed has resulted in decreased water availability and resulting droughts / water shortage, which affected the relatively fragile ecosystem of Lombok. Since 2009, reforestation and forest enrichment activities are being carried out to restore the watershed, using multi-purpose tree species.

    Local communities as well as the inhabitants of the downstream Mataram city benefit from the forest restoration activities, not only from the fruits collected from planted trees, but also from payments for water provision. In a study by Jaung, Wanggi, et al. (2016), it was found that stakeholders in the area were interested in the certification scheme as a capacity-building tool. Using the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure, the positive impact on water (ES3.3: Maintenance of the capacity of watersheds to purify and regulate water flow) has been demonstrated for 185 ha of community-managed forest ‘Mitra Sesaot’.

     *Jaung, Wanggi, et al. "Certification of forest watershed services: AQ methodology analysis of opportunities and challenges in Lombok, Indonesia." Ecosystem services 22 (2016): 51-59.

    People in Forest

    Rahman, KMPH’s chairman, affirms the reforestation efforts have been very effective: “This can be seen from the condition of rivers and spring waters. The water quantity has begun to stabilize, the river flow no longer dries up even in summer, and there is always enough water discharge for the hydropower plant. Water quality is also getting better – it’s being used by the water company, and by forest communities for drinking.”

    Mataram city agreed to participate in a payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme to finance the forest restoration activities. The water company collects funds from households in Mataram city that are then channelled to the communities restoring the forests upstream in the watershed. Total annual agreed payments are 500 million IDR, or ~35,000 USD. After KMPH Mitra Sesaot were able to demonstrate the positive impacts of their restoration work on watershed services, six private companies (hotels) were convinced to join the PES scheme and contribute as corporate beneficiaries of the water services.

    The Indonesian government considers that the payment for environmental services in Mataram as a good model and currently several provinces in Indonesia are interested in developing this scheme.

    Syachriani, Forest Management Certification Specialist at WWF Indonesia, states that “FSC certification provides assurance that a forest is being well managed, so […] it should have positive impacts for people and nature. If those impacts can be demonstrated and verified, then they are more likely to be recognized by people and rewarded in the market.”  


Attending an ecosystem services training is the best way to learn how the FSC ecosystem services tools add value, how to implement the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure and how to evaluate ecosystem services impacts. In-person training sessions are offered all over the world. Check the agenda below for upcoming training events.





More info

date tbd

Libreville, Gabon


FSC Congo Basin


date tbd

Lima, Peru




* Due to the coronavirus, no in-person trainings will take place in the coming months. This section will be updated as soon as the situation will allow it.

In 2018, FSC offered a series of webinars to introduce the ecosystem services procedure to various key user groups. Access the webinar targeted to forest managers here. For the recording of the webinar for certification bodies, follow this link.


FSC-GUI-30-006 V1-0 EN.pdf
PDF, Size: 7.18MB
FSC FAQ On CAB Requirements For Ecosystem Services (Part V FSC-PRO-30-006)
PDF, Size: 628.94KB
Template Ecosystem Services Certification Document.docx
DOCX, Size: 82.37KB
Template List of Sponsors - Annex D ES PRO.docx
DOCX, Size: 17.16KB
Trademark Use Guide for Promotional License Holders.pdf
PDF, Size: 11.97MB
FSC-PRO-30-006 V1-0 EN.pdf
PDF, Size: 735.87KB