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Ecosystem services workshop a success!

Have you been wondering how working with ecosystem services can generate more public support or funding for your nature reserve? Well, we have all been wondering about and discussing this issue during the meetings of the joint Eurosite and EUROPARC Working Group on Economics and Ecosystem Services. For example, we have discussed the following:

  • Is making money to protect nature the only reason to work with ecosystem services. This could be a reason, but it is not the only one. If people were aware of the importance of nature in their day-to-day lives (provision of fresh water, pollination, ice skating in protected areas) maybe they would be more willing to conserve nature.
  • Can we engage water companies in nature conservation? They are using a service – water springs – that is provided by nature.
  • How can we communicate the concept of ecosystem services to the people living near our protected areas? What strategies can we use to sell ecosystem services? What is the best way to approach stakeholders when talking about ecosystem services?

As you can see there are a lot of questions around the topic of ecosystem services. For this reason, on the 25-26 November the joint Eurosite and EUROPARC Economics and Ecosystem Services Working Group held a workshop in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 20 people attended the meeting, representing 8 countries from across Europe.

The meeting started with an introductory presentation from Peter Glaves (Northumbria University, United Kingdom) who provided a series of reflections on how the value people place on ecosystem services depends on a person’s background and experience. Next Donal McCarthy (RSPB, United Kingdom) presented the ‘Guidance Manual for the Assessment of Ecosystem Services at Natura 2000 Sites’ and explained how it is structured.

Peter Glaves was up again next and engaged us in an interesting facilitated discussion about the importance and the role of ecosystem services when trying to communicate the benefits of nature and how they can bridge the gap between the economy and nature conservation by acting as a common language. The following presentation put our feet firmly back on the ground. Nel Sangers (Staatsbosbeheer, Netherlands) gave a practical example of how healthy coastal dune ecosystems purify water and how some water companies are investing in nature conservation to keep this ecosystem working. And finally, Katja Artz (EUROPARC Federation, Germany) gave us an interesting presentation about carbon sequestration and the many voluntary CO2 markets that are popping up all around Europe. These presentations were followed by a dinner, where the attendees continued to discuss the day’s presentations.

On the second day the attendees were split into four groups based on their interests. The groups focused on: rapid assessment of ecosystem services, communication and stakeholders, valuing nature, and carbon sequestration. All of the groups had lively discussions, exchanged ideas and made new contacts.

In the afternoon, the attendees then had the opportunity to go on an excursion to the nearby Zuid-Kennemerland National Park.

In all, it was a very useful meeting, full of interesting ideas and lots of new contacts were created that will contribute to strengthening the working group. The working group is now developing its working plan for 2015 and intends to follow up on the workshop by making carbon sequestration one of its key issues for 2015.

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