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New insides on the usefulness of Ecosystem Services

Brought into widespread use by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), ecosystem services have been increasingly in the focus of the European biodiversity policy since the launch of the European Biodiversity strategy to 2020. Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 calls Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory with the assistance of the European Commission. To achieve this, the European Commission has launched the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES).

In 2016 a large European Ecosystem Services Conference was organized linking science, policy and practice on ecosystem services and natural capital. At this conference the Oppla platform was launched – the EU Repository of Nature-Based Solutions. This platform provides a knowledge marketplace, where the latest thinking on natural capital, ecosystem services and nature-based solutions is brought together. Recently a scientific paperwas published with the key outcomes of the conference, summarising the usefulness of the Ecosystem Services concept.

Some of the main conclusions are that

being open to multiple interpretations allows the ecosystem services concept to operate as a boundary object, facilitating communication and cooperation between different user groups. Yet, there is a risk the resultant pluralism limits the capacity of ecosystem services assessments to directly inform decision and policy making, and that the concept could be used to support environmentally or socially harmful activities.”

Eurosite believes that the concept of ecosystem services could be the tool to improve the link between the site managers on the one hand, and businesses, policy makers, governments (at different levels), and citizens on the other. To explore this aspect and provide our members with support in working with ecosystem services, Eurosite operates an Economics and Ecosystem Services Working Group. The working group has produced a factsheet with a short introduction to ecosystem services for site managers