IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Mapping ecosystem services for policy support and decision making in the European Union


  • Maes, Joachim
  • Egoh, Benis
  • Willemen, Louise
  • Liquete, Camino
  • Vihervaara, Petteri
  • Schägner, Jan Philipp
  • Grizzetti, Bruna
  • Drakou, Evangelia G.
  • Notte, Alessandra La
  • Zulian, Grazia
  • Bouraoui, Faycal
  • Luisa Paracchini, Maria
  • Braat, Leon
  • Bidoglio, Giovanni


Mainstreaming ecosystem services into policy and decision making is dependent on the availability of spatially explicit information on the state and trends of ecosystems and their services. In particular, the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 addresses the need to account for ecosystem services through biophysical mapping and valuation. This paper reviews current mapping methods, identifies current knowledge gaps and provides the elements for a methodological framework for mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services at European scale. Current mapping methodologies go beyond purely land cover based assessments and include the use of primary data of ecosystem services, the use of functional traits to map ecosystem services and the development of models and ecological production functions. Additional research is needed to cover marine ecosystems and to include the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change in spatially explicit assessments. The ecosystem services cascade which connects ecosystems to human wellbeing is argued to provide a suitable, stepwise framework for mapping ecosystem services in order to support EU policies in a more effective way. We demonstrate the use of this framework for mapping using the water purification service as case.

Suggested Citation

  • Maes, Joachim & Egoh, Benis & Willemen, Louise & Liquete, Camino & Vihervaara, Petteri & Schägner, Jan Philipp & Grizzetti, Bruna & Drakou, Evangelia G. & Notte, Alessandra La & Zulian, Grazia & Bour, 2012. "Mapping ecosystem services for policy support and decision making in the European Union," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 31-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:1:y:2012:i:1:p:31-39
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2012.06.004

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kareiva, Peter & Tallis, Heather & Ricketts, Taylor H. & Daily, Gretchen C. & Polasky, Stephen (ed.), 2011. "Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199589005.
    2. Edward B. Barbier, 2012. "Progress and Challenges in Valuing Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Services," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 6(1), pages 1-19.
    3. Troy, Austin & Wilson, Matthew A., 2006. "Mapping ecosystem services: Practical challenges and opportunities in linking GIS and value transfer," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 435-449, December.
    4. Nicolas Roncin & Frédérique Alban & Eric Charbonnel & Romain Crec 'Hriou & Raquel de la Cruz Modino & Jean-Michel Culioli & M. Dimech & R. Goni & I. Guala & Ruth Higgins & Elodie Lavisse & Laurence Le, 2008. "Uses of ecosystem services provided by MPAs: How much do they impact the local economy? A southern Europe perspective," Post-Print hal-00353110, HAL.
    5. Nicolas Roncin & Jean Boncoeur & Jeremy Person & Elodie Lavisse & Laurence Le Direach & Conception Marcos & Romain Crec 'Hriou, 2008. "Uses of ecosystem services provided by MPAs: how much do they impact the local economy?," Post-Print hal-00358274, HAL.
    6. Costanza, Robert, 1999. "The ecological, economic, and social importance of the oceans," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 199-213, November.
    7. Posthumus, H. & Rouquette, J.R. & Morris, J. & Gowing, D.J.G. & Hess, T.M., 2010. "A framework for the assessment of ecosystem goods and services; a case study on lowland floodplains in England," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 1510-1523, May.
    8. Kreuter, Urs P. & Harris, Heather G. & Matlock, Marty D. & Lacey, Ronald E., 2001. "Change in ecosystem service values in the San Antonio area, Texas," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 333-346, December.
    9. Foley, Melissa M. & Halpern, Benjamin S. & Micheli, Fiorenza & Armsby, Matthew H. & Caldwell, Margaret R. & Crain, Caitlin M. & Prahler, Erin & Rohr, Nicole & Sivas, Deborah & Beck, Michael W. & Carr,, 2010. "Guiding ecological principles for marine spatial planning," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 955-966, September.
    10. Chisholm, Ryan A., 2010. "Trade-offs between ecosystem services: Water and carbon in a biodiversity hotspot," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1973-1987, August.
    11. Coiner, Colette & Wu, JunJie & Polasky, Stephen, 2001. "Economic and environmental implications of alternative landscape designs in the Walnut Creek Watershed of Iowa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 119-139, July.
    12. Termansen, Mette & Zandersen, Marianne & McClean, Colin J., 2008. "Spatial substitution patterns in forest recreation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 81-97, January.
    13. Gascoigne, William R. & Hoag, Dana & Koontz, Lynne & Tangen, Brian A. & Shaffer, Terry L. & Gleason, Robert A., 2011. "Valuing ecosystem and economic services across land-use scenarios in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Dakotas, USA," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1715-1725, August.
    14. Brainard, Julii & Bateman, Ian J. & Lovett, Andrew A., 2009. "The social value of carbon sequestered in Great Britain's woodlands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1257-1267, February.
    15. I.J. Bateman & A.P. Jones & A.A. Lovett & I.R. Lake & B.H. Day, 2002. "Applying Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to Environmental and Resource Economics," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 219-269, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Schägner, Jan Philipp & Brander, Luke & Maes, Joachim & Hartje, Volkmar, 2013. "Mapping ecosystem services' values: Current practice and future prospects," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 4(C), pages 33-46.
    2. Jan Philipp Schägner & Luke Brander & Joachim Maes & Volkmar Hartje, 2012. "Mapping Ecosystem Services’ Values: Current Practice and Future Prospects," Working Papers 2012.59, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Léa Tardieu, 2017. "The need for integrated spatial assessments in ecosystem service mapping," Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies, Springer, vol. 98(3), pages 173-200, December.
    4. Crossman, Neville D. & Burkhard, Benjamin & Nedkov, Stoyan & Willemen, Louise & Petz, Katalin & Palomo, Ignacio & Drakou, Evangelia G. & Martín-Lopez, Berta & McPhearson, Timon & Boyanova, Kremena & , 2013. "A blueprint for mapping and modelling ecosystem services," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 4(C), pages 4-14.
    5. Klain, Sarah C. & Satterfield, Terre A. & Chan, Kai M.A., 2014. "What matters and why? Ecosystem services and their bundled qualities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 310-320.
    6. De Valck, Jeremy & Broekx, Steven & Liekens, Inge & Aertsens, Joris & Vranken, Liesbet, 2014. "Testing the influence of substitutes in nature valuation by using spatial discounting factors," Working Papers 182808, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centre for Agricultural and Food Economics.
    7. Townsend, Michael & Thrush, Simon F. & Lohrer, Andrew M. & Hewitt, Judi E. & Lundquist, Carolyn J. & Carbines, Megan & Felsing, Malene, 2014. "Overcoming the challenges of data scarcity in mapping marine ecosystem service potential," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 8(C), pages 44-55.
    8. Turner, Katrine Grace & Anderson, Sharolyn & Gonzales-Chang, Mauricio & Costanza, Robert & Courville, Sasha & Dalgaard, Tommy & Dominati, Estelle & Kubiszewski, Ida & Ogilvy, Sue & Porfirio, Luciana &, 2016. "A review of methods, data, and models to assess changes in the value of ecosystem services from land degradation and restoration," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 319(C), pages 190-207.
    9. Qenani-Petrela, Eivis & Noel, Jay E. & Mastin, Thomas, 2007. "A Benefit Transfer Approach to the Estimation of Agro-Ecosystems Services Benefits: A Case Study of Kern County, California," Research Project Reports 121605, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California Institute for the Study of Specialty Crops.
    10. Ferdinando Villa & Kenneth J Bagstad & Brian Voigt & Gary W Johnson & Rosimeiry Portela & Miroslav Honzák & David Batker, 2014. "A Methodology for Adaptable and Robust Ecosystem Services Assessment," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(3), pages 1-18, March.
    11. Frélichová, Jana & VaÄ kář, David & Pártl, Adam & LouÄ ková, Blanka & HarmÃ¡Ä ková, Zuzana V. & Lorencová, EliÅ¡ka, 2014. "Integrated assessment of ecosystem services in the Czech Republic," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 8(C), pages 110-117.
    12. Mendoza-González, G. & Martínez, M.L. & Lithgow, D. & Pérez-Maqueo, O. & Simonin, P., 2012. "Land use change and its effects on the value of ecosystem services along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 23-32.
    13. Ping Zhang & Liang He & Xin Fan & Peishu Huo & Yunhui Liu & Tao Zhang & Ying Pan & Zhenrong Yu, 2015. "Ecosystem Service Value Assessment and Contribution Factor Analysis of Land Use Change in Miyun County, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-24, June.
    14. Pickard, Brian R. & Daniel, Jessica & Mehaffey, Megan & Jackson, Laura E. & Neale, Anne, 2015. "EnviroAtlas: A new geospatial tool to foster ecosystem services science and resource management," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 45-55.
    15. Pierre Mokondoko & Robert H Manson & Taylor H Ricketts & Daniel Geissert, 2018. "Spatial analysis of ecosystem service relationships to improve targeting of payments for hydrological services," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(2), pages 1-27, February.
    16. Abildtrup, Jens & Garcia, Serge & Olsen, Søren Bøye & Stenger, Anne, 2013. "Spatial preference heterogeneity in forest recreation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 67-77.
    17. Holmes, Thomas P. & Liebhold, Andrew M. & Kovacs, Kent F. & Von Holle, Betsy, 2010. "A spatial-dynamic value transfer model of economic losses from a biological invasion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 86-95, November.
    18. Qingfu Liu & Yanyun Zhao & Xuefeng Zhang & Alexander Buyantuev & Jianming Niu & Xiaojiang Wang, 2018. "Spatiotemporal Patterns of Desertification Dynamics and Desertification Effects on Ecosystem Services in the Mu Us Desert in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(3), pages 1-19, February.
    19. Han-Shen Chen & Wan-Yu Liu & Chi-Ming Hsieh, 2017. "Integrating Ecosystem Services and Eco-Security to Assess Sustainable Development in Liuqiu Island," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(6), pages 1-14, June.
    20. Song, Xiao-Peng, 2018. "Global Estimates of Ecosystem Service Value and Change: Taking Into Account Uncertainties in Satellite-based Land Cover Data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 227-235.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:1:y:2012:i:1:p:31-39. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.