TESSA for BirdLife

TESSA (Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment) is an easy-to-use digital workbook primarily aimed at conservation practitioners that leads the user through the steps needed to assess the ecosystem services provided at a particular site. Well it is now….

Taking on the TESSA

The aim of the project was to convert a wealth of information into a stimulating, accessible and interactive digital user-friendly interface, thus making TESSA available to a wide range of users.

A consortium of experts from Cambridge University, Anglia Ruskin University and surrounding NGOs developed a guidance manual (including practical methods) for assessing how nature’s values contribute to human well-being. This ‘Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment’ (TESSA) guides non-specialists through a selection of
accessible, low-cost methods, to identify the benefits that ecosystems provide to people, evaluating these compared with those expected under alternative land-uses.

It targets nonprofit organisations e.g. NGOs (particularly local and national organisations), research institutions and government agencies who lack the capacity and tools for understanding and implementing such assessments. The TESSA originally existed as a huge resource of Word, PDF, Powerpoint and Excel files. Now that’s what you call a challenge.

The TESSA toolkit is an easy-to-use workbook that leads the user through the steps needed to assess the ecosystem services provided at a particular site. It is built around a comparison of the site in two alternative states, e.g. before and after restoration or conversion, and encourages a high level of stakeholder engagement.

The toolkit was initially developed for conservation practitioners but can be used by anyone, including those with no prior knowledge of ecosystem services. It includes an introduction to the concepts of ecosystem services and natural capital, guidance on how to conduct a preliminary scoping appraisal to identify important services and beneficiaries, decision trees to identify the best methods to use for each service, and links to a set of simple low-cost methods for measuring ecosystem services either qualitatively or quantitatively.

Worked examples are provided, as well as instructions for collecting site-specific data where appropriate (including field surveys and stakeholder input). There is also guidance on how to communicate results to decision-makers.

The toolkit is based on an interactive pdf document which leads the user through a simple step by step approach to assess the main ecosystem services provided by the site. Preliminary guidance helps the user to select a suitable site, define the exact questions to be addressed, engage the relevant stakeholders and find out about the local political and socio-economic context.

The first step is then a scoping appraisal to identify which are the most important services for the site. For each of these services, there is a choice of several assessment methods, including manual calculations, stakeholder mapping, field surveys or modelling tools (options include use of the WaterWorld and Co$tingNature models).

A decision tree helps the user to choose the most suitable method, given the available data and resources. Electronic links take the user to separate short pdfs which describe how to apply each method, and there are also links to additional guidance documents and case studies.

Where can I get it?: 


Preliminary carbon assessment at Yala Swamp Kenya – Paul Muoria