Linking livelihoods and well-being to the environment in Malaysia:

Capacity building among local conservation practitioners to identify, prioritise and assess ecosystem services.

About The Project

In recent times, ecosystem services have changed significantly, and many in a reduced or degraded state. By measuring and monitoring ecosystem services, we can do better environmental planning and enhance sustainability as well as human well-being. We, at SEARRP are working closely with the Tropical Biology Association (TBA) with the support of Yayasan Hasanah to build the capacity of local conservation practitioners to identify, prioritise and assess ecosystem services in Malaysia through the use of the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA).

Read More We are finalising phase one of the project which has piloted TESSA in the Malaysian context over the past 18 months. Guided by the findings and results of phase one, we will work towards developing an up-scaled capacity building programme for the assessment of ecosystem services using TESSA.

TESSA Toolkit

A simplified approach to identify, assess and value ecosystem services at site- level.

The TESSA toolkit is designed to provide a simplified approach to conduct low-cost and accessible methods for evaluating ecosystem services at a site-scale. It can be used by non-experts to deliver scientifically robust results. The toolkit helps users to understand how people can benefit from ecosystem services. It can also generate information that can be used in decision-making for improved environmental management as well as strengthened community partnership with government, civil society and the private sector.

The toolkit can be downloaded at

TESSA Training Programme

The training programme was divided into two training workshops and one consolidation forum. Concepts of ecosystem services, the application of TESSA, new skills and knowledge such as data analysis and interpretation as well as communicating to your stakeholders were significant aspects of the training throughout the programme.

Participants have learned first-hand from case studies of projects that have assessed ecosystem services and used such assessment to influence policy decisions and research. The training was delivered through interactive talks, practicals, discussions and field trips led by Dr Rosie Trevelyan of the TBA and supported by the TESSA Consortium as well as the SEARRP team.

Introduce concepts of ecosystem services and application of TESSA.

First TESSA Training Session

The first training course was held at KOPEL which is a Community Ecotourism Cooperative located in Batu Puteh, Lower Kinabatangan in Eastern Sabah (KOPEL). This five (5)-day training course was held from the 12 to 16 November 2018. The course introduced the concept of ecosystem services, the application of TESSA and methods for prioritising and assessing ecosystem services. All 17 participants were given an exercise to conduct a rapid appraisal of ecosystem services in sites throughout KOPEL. This involved identification of key habitats, ecosystem services and threats relevant to both site (including alternative state) as well as beneficiaries and conservation actions in place.

TESSA training session 1 – field surveys

The course started by providing a baseline understanding of ecosystem services. The 17 participants worked as a team to identify different ecosystem services and how their value is not always exclusively economic but can be recreational or cultural. Applying this knowledge, the participants tackled the first steps of TESSA where they considered the objective of projects and brainstormed possible methods to achieve suitable outcomes for all parties involved. The trainees were then familiarised with stakeholder engagement through meetings and workshops, the purpose of which was to determine the most favourable scenario for both habitat conservation and ecosystem services delivery.

Practical application of the TESSA training programme in the field.

After a session on establishing comparative values of different ecosystem services, the trainees applied these skills to a real-world scenario case study where they were required to provide solutions and recommendations to an existing project.  The final topic of stakeholder diversity was exemplified through a role-playing exercise that required all participants to draw on the expertise and knowledge that they had gained during the training to come up with viable solutions. After successfully applying a TESSA analysis to case-study projects, participants were asked to start to plan proposals for their own projects. Using posters to highlight key areas of their plans, the students successfully presented their projects and highlighted the challenges when applying TESSA on the ground.

TESSA training course 1 – applying the knowledge obtained on the course to personal TESSA projects

Apply TESSA and new skills to assess your own site.

After training course one, the participants returned to their own sites for a six (6) month fieldwork period to apply the skills they learned and to use TESSA to conduct a site-based assessment of ecosystem services. Participants received fieldwork support from the SEARRP project team, and small grants were provided to support these site-based assessments.

Receive training in data analysis, results interpretation and communication skills.

The second training course was held in Damansara Perdana, Kuala Lumpur on the 18th-21st of June 2019. This was a four (4)-day training course where participants reconvened to present the progress of their site-based assessments. During this training course, participants discussed how their results can be used for decision making, environmental management and conservation policies.

Participants also received training in data analysis and interpretation of results. This course delivered practical training on how to communicate to different stakeholders, implementing different techniques. By using practical examples, participants learned how to convey their messages for maximum impact.

Complete site assessment and present findings to your stakeholders.

After training course two, participants returned to their sites for a three (3) month period to complete their site-based assessment, consolidate their findings and present their assessment to their stakeholders in the field.

All stakeholders convene at the final forum to discuss and explore future work.

The Consolidation Forum will provide the platform for all training participants to present their assessment reports, discuss the wider implications of their findings and lessons learnt as well as to explore the opportunity for the upscaling of TESSA. The Consolidation forum will be held on the 21st of November 2019 at the Yayasan Hasanah office in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Additional Info

For more information, please email Melissa Payne
(Science Impact Coordinator).