The application of the ecosystem services (ES) concept in land use planning has great potential to enhance the awareness of planning actors on their interactions. At the same time it can contribute to improve the linkage between the role of land use patterns and the understanding of land system functioning and its contribution to human well-being. The concept should be developed in a way that can be applicable in socio-ecological systems where nature and society are capable of enhancing their roles mutually. The objective of this paper is to suggest a standardized scheme and generalizable criteria to assess how successful the application of the ES concept contributed to facilitate participatory planning. We consider three potential advantages and three critical aspects for how to improve the applicability and relevance of the ES concept in planning. Hereon based, we present a balanced score card tool for which we broke down to advantages and risks into concrete questions. We illustrate the application of this approach with two case studies, representatives of two major governance schemes in relation to land use planning. We demonstrate that the balanced score card approach helps to reveal potential imbalances regarding the consideration of different ES groups. It supports testing the potential of the ES concept to enhance or not interactions of local and regional actors. We conclude that the framework should be reconsidered after a set of case studies to be developed into a monitoring tool for supporting planning practices.