Recently, the concept of Ecosystem Services (ESs) has undergone a process of mainstreaming. It has been promoted in multiple policy documents and investigated in a growing number of studies addressing the functioning, assessment and management of ESs. Despite a general recommendation to integrate ESs into planning processes, this step remains highly critical yet far from complete. This paper explores the feasibility of the recommended uses of ESs for planning purposes by examining the needs of planners and decision-makers. A systematic literature review was conducted analysing different studies to overcome the limited adoption of ESs in planning verifying their operationalisation for planning practices. The paper classifies different purpose(s) assigned to ESs supporting the planning process. The results show that few experiments have adopted a step-by-step procedure facilitating the integration of ESs into planning and highlighting their added value in each phase of the planning process. In these cases, an ES-based Green Infrastructure has allowed for their integration into planning, also adopting a multi-scale spatial dimension. More practical experiments on how a planning process works are needed to operationalise the ESs concept for planning purposes, also reinforcing the role of the Strategic Environmental Assessment that is still marginal.
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