Practical application of ecosystem services in Belgium
Presentation by Anke Geeraerts, Natuurpunt
Eurosite Annual Meeting 2016, Serres, Greece
Natuurpunt is a member-based nature conservation organisation in Flanders. In this presentation I shared three case studies in which we are exploring if and how ecosystem services (ESS) could be used for tackling three challenges: raising public and political awareness, stakeholder management and finding alternative funding.
First, as our financial model largely depends on gifts and subsidies, it is important for us to have both public and political support. Research on ESS shows that, in general, we do not communicate about the ESS that our nature reserves deliver, however important they are. Finetuning our communication on ESS could lead to more support, but there are some important footnotes remarks. First, we need to develop an ESS language that connects more to the values of our volunteers and members. And secondly, the tools currently used have many pitfalls.
Secondly, as Flanders is built-up and spatially scattered, we have many neighbours. As a consequence we need to talk to other stakeholders. In the Green Valley, a built- up area between Leuven and Brussels, we are using ESS as a language to communicate with stakeholders. With ESS, we are learning to think out of the box. The long-term goal: to have a spatial plan that is supported by all stakeholders.
Finally, budget cuts and a review of the nature policy requires to look for alternative funding opportunities. Currently, we receive subsidies to create certain types of habitats. However, calculating the ESS of our nature reserves shows that we deliver more benefits than solely the natural capital: water management, air quality, health benefits, etc… In the future, Natuurpunt needs to consider whether we could use ESS to convince governments and private companies of the multifunctional role of our nature reserves.
Photo: © Natuurpunt