Guiding the guides: Doing ‘Constructive Innovation Assessment’ as part of innovating forest ecosystem service governance

Ewert J. Aukes*, Peter Stegmaier, Christian Schleyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


While participatory methods are not unknown in the ecosystem services community, there is unused potential in co-creating ecosystem service governance innovation. We argue that participatory methods in ecosystem service governance can be further improved and ingrained into the way of working by incorporating insights from innovation studies. In the InnoForESt project, which revolved around innovations in forest ecosystem services, the task of “Constructive Innovation Assessment” (CINA) was to systematically transfer strategic knowledge into six local innovation processes. We outline the core features of this approach and describe the experiences we made in accompanying the implementation of the approach in the six cases. As a core feature of CINA, realistic scenarios were developed in each innovation process, aiming to formulate contextualised innovation options. Because stakeholders are the linchpin of all efforts, they must be able and willing to do something with these options. The innovation work carried out during the project was designed in such a way that the scenarios were developed, stabilised, or modified and sometimes discarded in co-creation with the stakeholders at key points during intensive strategic workshops. Working with the CINA approach benefits from operable boundary objects and strives for achieving the quality of “convergence work”: the challenge of reaching agreement on something that can be collaborated upon, across different interests and with growing shared interest. CINA's flexibility allowed each of the six processes to be tailored to the forest ecosystem governance of a region. Participation in the InnoForESt project was not limited to a series of workshops but encompassed various forms of communication and interaction between these workshops. For local innovation workers, participation in the InnoForESt project was also a practical challenge: to be self-confident and true to themselves and their own competences, while simultaneously remaining open to trying something new. For them, CINA was not only part of a broader process, but also a ‘method’. This method seemed unwieldy at first but gained momentum and attractiveness while engaging with it. The effort involved in introducing and supporting CINA is substantial. If one does not want to return to a simple, linear illusion of ‘controllable’ innovation, then it is worth investing in the support work with local partners which CINA provides. All sides learn from adopting CINA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101482
JournalEcosystem services
Early online date12 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Forest Ecosystem Services
  • governance
  • Constructive Innovation Assessment’
  • CINA
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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