The ecosystem services approach in corporate sustainability: results from industrial plantation forestry in China

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The concept of ecosystem services, wide-spread in academia and policy making, emphasizes societal and economic dependence on natural systems for, among others, provision of food, fibres and water, regulation of climate and soil, and contribution to spiritual and cultural values. Anthropogenic pressures driven by rapid economic development are, however, causing a disruption in the benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems.

Several economic sectors both depend on and impact ecosystem services. There is therefore maturing expectation for the private sector involvement in environmental governance worldwide, as firms are increasingly motivated to pursue sustainability for financial or strategic opportunities.

This dissertation is among the first to address the current research void on the interactions between industries and ecosystem services. The topic is analysed in the context of extensive plantation forestry in the emerging economy of China. The main aim of this work is to investigate if and how the ecosystem services narrative can contribute to further develop corporate sustainability agendas and practices.

Based on the findings from this work, ecosystem services research can provide insights and tools to pursue a more comprehensive and holistic acknowledgement of and response to interlinked ecological and social issues in corporate sustainability. For instance it can enable the understanding of company impacts and dependencies on ecosystems, and associated business risks and opportunities; deepen the analysis of company stakeholders’ perspectives and expectations; contribute to the design of sustainability-oriented practices; and enrich corporate disclosure practices.

Further operationalisation of the ecosystem services approach into corporate sustainability would require a more systematic assessment and comparison of the relations between relevant business sectors and ecosystems, the analysis of global-local trade-offs, the internalizations of concepts such as ecological limits and ecological resilience, and the elaboration of suitable corporate and industrial response strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
  • Rekola, Mika , Supervisor
  • Toppinen, Anne, Supervisor
Award date19 Aug 2016
Place of PublicationVantaa
Print ISBNs978-951-651-533-8
Electronic ISBNs978-951-651-532-1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 4112 Forestry
  • ekosysteemipalvelut
  • Kiina
  • metsäteollisuus
  • puuviljelmät
  • yritysvastuu

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