Central to the OPERAs project is the aim of operationalising and mainstreaming the ecosystem services and natural capital concepts, which are still largely theoretical. The OPERAs project will address the need to explore whether, how and under what conditions these concepts can move beyond the academic domain towards practical implementation in support of sustainable ecosystem management.
OPERAs seeks to provide the knowledge and tools to enable people to integrate cutting-edge science into the every day decision-making that governs our ecosystems. In doing so, it aims to redistribute the wealth of conceptual understanding in science toward an application of academic theory in practice.
Unlike many existing case studies, OPERAs will address the challenges of operationalising ecosystem services and natural capital by targeting new research at the knowledge needs of policymakers and other stakeholders. This stakeholder engagement is integral to the project design, particularly to ensure the relevance of policies and instruments based on the ecosystem services and natural capital concept.
OPERAs brings together practitioners from science, policy and practice communities through the development of tools, instruments, data, training, educational materials and other resources. These resources will be tested through 12 exemplar case studies and the resulting tools and instruments will made available through a web portal, which will be named Onest.
The OPERAs project has been designed to include extensive stakeholder engagement from the outset. The project is working alongside stakeholders in a variety of capacities, encouraging an iterative process of input and feedback between a wide group of policy makers, practitioners and scientists.