A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe: Methods, case studies and policy analysis - phase 1

The PRESS initiative is a collaboration between PEER research institutes addressing some of the knowledge gaps which stand in the way of performing a spatially-explicit, biophysical, monetary and policy assessment of ecosystem services in Europe. The starting point is the need to upgrade the knowledge basis of land-use information and mapping to reflect the existing knowledge about ecosystem services and their social and economic values, to better inform policy design and decision making processes.

PRESS demonstrates methodologies to map ecosystem services. Present data on ecosystem services are strongly biased towards provisioning services such as food and timber production, while spatial information of so called regulating and cultural ecosystem services is largely lacking. In particular, the PEER institutes have developed models for mapping at different spatial scales the role of ecosystems as providers of recreation to citizens and the function of river networks in providing clean water.

PRESS has also investigated how the introduction of ecosystem services into biodiversity policy is likely to result in synergies and tradeoffs with other policies regulating agriculture, fisheries or forestry, each of which has strong impacts on biodiversity and conservation.

There is a need for the development of a hierarchical sets of ecosystem service indicators, following European SEBI example (Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators), but geographically explicit and linked to EU-2020 Biodiversity Strategy.

The report includes an analysis of policy options, which shows that the perception of what services are provided by ecosystems varies according to the respondents, the geographical characteristics of the regions and the scales of decision-making. This dictates then the type of assessment that territorial managers need to carry out.

The PRESS study has concluded in September 2012 with the publication of a second and final report also available for download.

 

Published September 2011