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Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services


IES scientists have co-authored a discussion paper, published this month by DG Environment, of an analytical framework for ecosystem assessment under the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

In an effort to help maintain and restore ecosystems and their services, the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020* calls Member States (MS) to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory with the help of the European Commission. The Working Group on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)**, which has been set up to support the MS, has published a discussion paper that outlines an analytical framework for this mapping and assessment effort. This paper aims to help MS to identify national priorities using a common typology, in order to maintain coherence and comparability of results.

The discussion paper compiles background information, proposes a conceptual ecosystem assessment framework that links socio-economic systems with ecosystems, and proposes a typology for the different types of broad ecosystems to be considered. The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) framework is proposed for integrating the economics of ecosystem services into EU and MS accounting and reporting systems. It calls for an assessment of the status, definition and valuation of ecosystem services in alignment with future outlooks. It has been proposed that thematic pilots be established to test the analytical framework outlined in the paper.

A high-level event to present the first MAES delivery and communicate the importance of MAES for policy-making is planned for next year’s International Biodiversity Day, 22 May 2014.


*EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

To address the enormous challenge of biodiversity loss (around one in four EU species are currently threatened with extinction and 88% of fish stocks over-exploited or significantly depleted), the European Commission adopted an ambitious new strategy on 3 May 2011 to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 has six main targets:

  • Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity
  • Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure
  • More sustainable agriculture and forestry
  • Better management of fish stocks
  • Tighter controls on invasive alien species
  • A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss


**Working Group on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)

The MAES Working Group was set up under the Common Implementation Framework of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, with the task of supporting the implementation of Action 5 (the call to MS to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory with the assistance of the European Commission). It is made up of representatives from the MS, the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, universities and other scientific and non-governmental stakeholders from within the EU. The first action of the Working Group was to help develop a coherent analytical framework to be applied by the EU and its MS in order to ensure that consistent approaches are used.  In a next step, the working group is testing the framework through a number of pilot studies that will identify the information needs for national and cross-European ecosystem assessments of forests, cropland and grassland, and freshwater and marine ecosystems.


Further information


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