Photo: ESMERALDA members at the 9th ESP Conference in Shenzhen, China (Photo: Kremena Burkhard).

The 9th Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) World Conference took place in Shenzhen, China, from December 11-15, 2017. This year’s conference was under the theme "Ecosystem Services for Eco-civilization: Restoring connections between people and landscapes through nature-based solutions". ESMERALDA was well-represented among the about 400 delegates from 49 countries. Altogether 12 project collaborators from 8 partner institutions and 2 advisory board members were active organizing the conference, hosting thematic sessions and giving presentations. 

More information can be found at the website of the 9. ESP World Conference:

Photo: Group picture from the 9th ESP Conference in Shenzhen, China (Photo: Ida Kubiszewski).

The project meets key stakeholders for its Mid-term Conference in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

For nearly two and a half years to date, the Horizon2020-funded EU project ESMERALDA has been working hard towards the development of a flexible methodology in support of pan-European and regional Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES).

From 2 to 5 October, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the ESMERALDA project met with key stakeholders from the EU member states, the European Commission and Science-Policy-Society Advisory Board members to present a final version of its ecosystem services mapping and assessment methodology, and collect feedback and ideas for improvements and implementation. Altogether 70 participants attended the meeting.


In a session dedicated to ESMERALDA support and coordination for MAES  implementation and application, the participants split into four breakout groups to discuss four key areas of further developing the flexible methodology and tiered approach for mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services, including:

  • Ways in which ESMERALDA can support EU member states during the final year and beyond the project and ideas how the national support groups could activate themselves and build national actor networks that carry on the support actions and provide discussion for the long-run.

  • Useful methods and tools for mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services.

  • Possible structure and content of guideline documents and tools to support the applications of ecosystem services mapping and assessment methods by policy, decision-makers from business and practice as well as science and the society.

  • Indicators to measure progress on phase 1 and phase 2 of Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy’s Target 2.

Coming back from this meeting, the participants from the 37 ESMERALDA partner organisations from across 31 different European countries were using the feedback to create a roadmap for integration of the recommendations for the last project phases and towards implementation in practise of policy and decision making.


During the field trip to the Balkan National Park on the second day of the meeting, the participants had the chance to familiarize themselves with the progress and objectives of the EnRoute project (Enhancing Resilience Of Urban Ecosystems through Green Infrastructure) by visiting key stakeholders in Karlovo, the Bulgarian City Lab for the project.



ESMERALDA project partners and stakeholders met for a 3-days Workshop to discuss latest developments in the project, to test ecosystem services mapping and assessment methods across European biomes and regions and to plan future actions. The event took place from 4 to 7 April 2017, kindly hosted by the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.

During the first day, ESMERALDA partners had the opportunity to present latest project results. Special focus was placed on presenting the progress in developing ESMERALDA’s Flexible Methodology for Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES). Another hot topic was the development of a Europe-wide database to track the progress of MAES methods development and implementation across member states. The second Workshop day was used for a field visit of the Guadarrama National Park and its mountain range, containing some ecologically very valuable areas providing numerous ecosystem services.

Case studies on different spatial scales and varying biomes from Spain, Bulgaria and the Azores and the methods tested within them were presented and discussed with Workshop participants on the third day, where also a dedicated session on marine ecosystem services mapping was organised. During a special stakeholder panel discussion organised during the last day, practitioners and policy makers had the opportunity to give their direct feedback about the presented results of ESMERALDA.

Next steps for ESMERALDA will involve not only further developing the project’s Flexible Methodology for mapping and assessment of ecosystem services, underlying databases and test cases, but also working on integrating all results towards a widely applicable resource for mapping and assessment of ecosystem services and related policy and decision making in Europe.

The new book Mapping Ecosystem Services provides a comprehensive collection of theories, methods and practical applications of ecosystem services (ES) mapping, for the first time bringing together valuable knowledge and techniques from leading international experts in the field. Published by Pensoft, the book is both available in an online open access version via the publisher's Advanced Books platform, and can be ordered in paperback and hardback format.

Human well-being and economic prosperity are largely dependent on ecosystem conditions and the essential goods and services they provide to mankind, such as fertile soils, multi-functional forests, land and seas, fresh water, clean air, pollination, and climate regulation, to name just a few. Mapping ecosystems and their services is a powerful tool to raise awareness about such areas of ecosystem goods and services supply and demand and to assist environmental education about human dependence on functioning nature.

ES have the potential to become a major tool for policy and decision making on global, national, regional and local scales, with a myriad of possible applications. Sustainable management of natural resources, land use optimisation, environmental protection, nature conservation and restoration, landscape planning, nature-based solutions, climate protection, disaster risk reduction to environmental education and research are just some of the areas where the concept can be applied.

In this context, mapping ecosystem services constitutes a very powerful tool to bring ES into practical application. Being able to efficiently communicate complex spatial information, ES maps are very useful for raising awareness about areas of ecosystem services supply and demand. Furthermore, maps are mandatory instruments for landscape planning, environmental resource management and land use optimisation.

Targeting an audience broader than just the research community, the new Mapping Ecosystem Services book provides in eight chapters insights in ES and mapping theory, ES quantification and mapping methods and tools and related uncertainties, in combination with examples of application in practice.

"Our aim was to present concise chapters in a professional but understandable language in order to facilitate their readability and comprehension. For example footnotes with direct links and suggestions for further reading are provided at the end of each chapter", explain the editors Prof. Benjamin Burkhard, Leibniz Universität Hannover and Joachim Maes, Joint Research Centre, European Commission. "We hope this book is helpful and supports the appropriate mapping of ES!".

"There are still big challenges ahead of us such as the improvement of the mapping and assessment of the ecosystem condition and the integration of the assessment of the ecosystem condition with ecosystem services and the construction of the first ecosystem accounts. As highlighted in this book, we are however on a very positive track!", comments Anne Teller, European Commission, Directorate-General Environment in her preface to the book.

Original Source:

Ecosystem Services. Advanced Books.

Order online at:

Additional Information:

The Advanced Books platform is launched by Pensoft to publish new books or re-publish such previously available in paper or PDF only, in an advanced and semantically enhanced HTML and XML formats, to accelerate open access, data publication, mining, sharing and reuse. Advanced Books builds on the novel approaches developed by Pensoft's journals.

Being at the core of the EU’s Biodiversity (BD) Strategy, Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) across EU countries is an important stepping stone towards the achievement of a sustainable future for Europe.

While ESMERALDA has already achieved substantial progress towards analysing and supporting the process of implementing MAES across EU member states and to deliver a flexible methodology for pan-European and regional assessments, little has been said so far about Europe’s Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in this context. The ORs and OCTs with their very specific social-ecological system settings are hotspots of biodiversity and need special consideration in management.

Initiated and organised as a joint activity of ESMERALDA, the European Commission DG Environment’s Voluntary Scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas (BEST) and the University of Azores, a dedicated workshop on MAES in EU’s ORs and OCTs took place from 28 Feb to 03 Mar 2017 in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island, Azores, to start the process of exchanging knowledge and initiate coordinated MAES activities in these special regions and adjacent marine areas.

Group photo of workshop participants taking during the field trip to Lagoa das Sete Cidades, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal.

During the 3 day workshop, the 26 participants, including representatives of Europe’s ORs&OCTs, including the Azores, French Guiana, Canary Islands, Martinique, Bonaire and Reunion, presented their work on assessing biodiversity, ecosystems and their services. The BEST initiative also outlined its ongoing projects in the OR&OCTs, as well as plans for future developments.

Partners from ESMERALDA presented the project’s implementation strategy, results and progress towards creating a flexible MAES methodology. The project also hosted practical workshops on application of the ESTIMAP model on recreation and pollination ecosystem services, application of the RIOS model for watershed management for ecosystem services, a participatory GIS session and a session dedicated to marine ecosystems.

Selection of images from the workshop’s plenary sessions and practical trainings.

This workshop was only a first step towards exchanging knowledge, creating mutual understanding and establishing respective supporting and coordination scheme for MAES implementation in EU’s ORs&OCTs and marine areas. Further workshops, staff and student exchanges and common case studies were planned during the event on the Azores.

Photo Gallery.

If you have not checked our Insider Rubric in the last few months, then you have missed on three new additions, providing a great insight on the project's diverse team, bringing expertise form various fields and backgrounds.

The last three addiotions to the rubric - Davide Geneletti, Pavel Stoev and Fernando S. Martín - share their research interest form fields varying from speleology and supporting decision-making to communication and social impacts ecosystem services approaches.

Davide Geneletti is an Associate Professor of Spatial Planning at the University of Trento, where he teaches Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Planning. Davide is also leader of the research group PLANES-Planning for ecosystem services. Being an Executive Board Member and Work Package Leader, within ESMERALDA he mainly works in the area of decision support, i.e., looking at ways to mainstream ecosystem services into real-life decision-making processes.


Pavel Stoev is an Editorial Director at Pensoft Publishers, while also holding the position of a Professor of Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia, Bulgaria. Being an Executive Board Member within ESMERALDA, he also acts as a leader of Work Package 6, dealing with the project’s dissemination and outreach.


Fernando Santos Martín is a Senior Researcher working at the Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory at the Autonomous University of Madrid. During the last seven years he has been involved in several national and international cross-disciplinary research projects and teaching activities.  

Sofia, Bulgaria was the host of the two-day Conference "Mapping and assessment of ecosystem services - Science in action", organized by the EEA-funded project "Methodological Support for Ecosystem Services Mapping and Biophysical Valuation" (MetEcoSMap). The event, which took place on 6 and 7 February, brought together 133 experts from 21 countries.

The conference focused on mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services across the different countries represented at the event. MetEcoSMap presented their work on the development of a methodological framework and application results for mapping and assessment of ecosystem services in Bulgaria.

ESMERALDA was represented at the event by several consortium partners, among them Benjamin Burkhard, who spoke on "Integrated mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services", as well as Joachim Maes and Fernando Santos, who presented their research in keynote speeches. The Bulgarian ESMERALDA partners Svetla Bratanova-Doncheva and Stoyan Nedkov were two of the key organisers of the whole event.

Mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services (MAES) are core to the EU Biodiversity (BD) Strategy, where Action 5 sets the requirement for an EU-wide knowledge base. During the conference, progress towards achieving these objectives with special focus on Bulgaria was presented and scientists had the opportunity to exchange know how and measure progress against other countries.

The Institute of Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology at Leibniz Universität Hannover is seeking a highly motivated scientist for research and development work in the transdisciplinary field of ecosystem services, ecosystem conditions and functions. Special focus is on the interrelations between ecosystem conditions and related ecosystem service supply.

The work is integrated in ongoing international (ESMERALDA, MAES Working of the EU, ESP) and national (cooperations e.g. with the BfN, UBA, ESP-DE). The job holder shall furthermore contribute to teaching in the BSc and MSc curricula within the integrative education in Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology. The possibility to derive a PhD thesis within above-mentioned research fields is given.


Required are a degree (MSc, Diploma) in related disciplines (e.g. geography, landscape ecology, environmental sciences, landscape or environmental planning, geoinformatics, biology, hydrology or agricultural sciences) and solid English language skills. Additionally we expect methodological knowledge (e.g. GIS, data analysis, modelling, statistics) and experience in interdisciplinary project work.

To apply

Please send your application (including a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications (if available) and copies of certificates) before 15.03.2017 to


More information, available in the OFFICIAL JOB OFFER!

From 9 to 12 January 2017, ESMERALDA held the second of a series of five planned project workshops aimed at testing the flexible ecosystem services (ES) mapping and assessment  methodology under development using real-world case studies. Bringing together both project partners and stakeholders, the workshop aimed to collect feedback on the suitability of the various methods to be used in different decision-making processes.

Group photo of the participants at the Amsterdam workshop during the excursion to De Biesbosch National Park. Credit: Pavel Stoev

During the workshop, the 60 participants received an update on the latest developments of the consortium and the flexible methodology developed within ESMERALDA, and had the opportunity to contribute to the methods classification, database generation and methodology development during different break-out sessions.

Using a selection of three case studies, participants were introduced to a set of selected mapping and assessment methods with the aim to enhance the understanding of the practical applicability of different methods across different spatial scales, methods’ complexities and relevant themes. The case studies used came from the Netherlands, Poland and Malta, mainly focusing on the following themes: Natural risk (NL), Agriculture and Forestry (ML) and Urban and spatial planning (PL).

The overall aim of the workshop was to explore whether the selected methods have the flexibility required to promote the integration of ES in a variety of policy themes relevant across the European Union. The stakeholders Mr Marius Brants from Droomfonds project Haringvliet, Dr. Łukasz Mikuła from the City council of Poznan and Nikolas Cassar from the MALTA Environment and Resources Authority shared their valuable experience in relevant environment management projects in their countries which were broadly discussed by the participants. The ESMERALDA workshop series will continue in April with the next meeting in Madrid, dedicated to specific European biomes and regions.

A new Special Issue addressing the challenge of assessing and valuing cultural ecosystem services as specifically stipulated by Target 2, Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity strategy (i.e. Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES), is being currently in preparation to be published in Ecosystem Services.

The focus of this Special Issue will be on the assessment and valuation of the cultural ecosystem service of recreation al opportunities, especially at regional and national levels. Contributions should present novel insights and latest methods for mapping and assessing recreational ecosystem services and cultural ecosystem services more broadly, tackling potentials, demand, actual use, as well as economic and socio-cultural values and benefits of RES. Furthermore, the Special Issue aims to add value by also focusing on practical applications and the potential for modelling and mapping outputs to be used in policy and practical decision making.

Submissions that address the following key questions are welcomed:

  • How can we advance the theory and practice of RES mapping, assessment, and economic and socio-cultural valuation in the context of MAES, including suggestions for harmonizing the diversity of approaches?

  • Which bottlenecks and innovative solutions have been identified in the mapping, assessment and valuation of RES?

  • How can ‘big data’ be applied in the assessment of RES?

  • Which evidence do we have about the links between RES and the benefits for human wellbeing?

  • How can we understand the diverse benefits depending on the diversity of beneficiaries of RES?

  • How can we implement RES assessments that provide valid and relevant information at various spatial and temporal scales?

  • How can we harmonize different approaches to mapping and assessing RES, for example among EU member states, to enhance the comparability of the results?

Key Dates: 

Submission start: December 1, 2016
Submission deadline: May 31, 2017
First review deadline: August 31, 2017
Revised submission deadline: September 30, 2017
Second review deadline: November 30, 2017
Acceptance deadline: December 31, 2017

First of a series of five, the recent ESMERALDA Workshop was dedicated to testing methods for mapping and assessment of ecosystem services identified in the second project phase using real-world case studies.

Group photo from the "Testing the methodology acrossEurope" Workshop, Prague; Credit: CzechGlobe

Taking place from 26 – 29 September 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic, ESMERALDA thematic Workshop III was attended by about 60 project partners and stakeholders, who have been directly involved in the case studies, and who provided valuable feedback on the suitability of the methods to be used in different decision-making processes. The event was organized by the ESMERALDA partner CzechGlobe (Global Change Research Institute CAS).

The ESMERALDA Workshop "Testing the methodology across Europe" not only updated participants on the latest scientific and supporting developments within the project, but also aimed at stimulating discussions on a set of selected methods.

Focused on understanding how the selected methods have been applied in three case studies from Latvia, Czech Republic, and Germany, the overall purpose of the Workshop was to start drafting ESMERALDA’s flexible ecosystem services mapping and assessment methods data base, for which among others specific "method cards" were applied.

The methods collection resulting from the various ESMERALDA Workshops, will be gradually compiled and revised during the course of the project and integrated into a holistic flexible methodology for ES mapping and assessment.

The Workshop took place at Karolinum, the historical building of the Charles University in Prague and was supplemented by a field visit to the Třeboňsko UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with a visit to a CzechGlobe LTER monitoring station in the protected landscape area.

Photos: Discussions during the workshop (left) and Excursion (right); Credits: Pavel Stoev


This issue of the ESMERALDA Insider rubric will introduce you to Marion Potschin-Young. Learn more about Marion’s contribution to ESMERALDA, her research and general interests.

Marion Potschin-Young is director of Fabis Consulting, an consultancy working at the interface of environment and society. Before November 2016 she was Director for CEM (Centre for Environmental Management) at the University of Nottingham. In ESMERALDA she is leader of Work Package 4 and is also acting as a deputy coordinator of the project. Since 2002 she focuses on Ecosystem Service research and their applications, which led her to serve as a reviewer for the European Commission's FP7 programme and project evaluator for FP6 and FP7 on Environment. More recently she is on the advisory board for TEEB-Germany, the German, Swedish but also Belgium and Luxemburg Governmental funding bodies for ecosystem service research. Her latest output is being the co-editor of the "Handbook of Ecosystem Services".


Generally interested in the way science is used in policy and decision making, Marion is especially looking at how concepts and conclusions are translated between different communities. Working with decision makers is especially important for scientists both to demonstrate the relevance of what they do, but also to identify key problems and challenges which new thinking can address.

Currently, Marion is mainly working on ecosystem service assessment and especially how classification systems can be designed to support a number of purposes. In addition to mapping and assessment, these include ecosystem accounting. Her early background is based on the landscape ecology of the Arctic and Antarctic, but she now mostly focuses on the landscapes and associated biomes that we find in Europe.


On a more more personal leve

l, Marion combines her research interests with her hobbies, now working on delivering a lot of ecosystem services through a massive gardening project. Having recently bought a plot of land she is now establishing an orchard, a wildflower meadow and a length of new hedgerow and investigates "how this improves the pollination of fruits and vegetables".

Marion's gardening project.

"While we want to encourage biodiversity in our area, we need to eat too, and so provisioning services are on the menu with a vegetable plot and hopefully chickens," adds Marion with a pinch of humor in her tone. "When not in the garden or working for ESMERALDA I love to cook good fresh food and create interest for healthy nice food for workshops."


Within the project Marion is leading Work Package 4, which is dealing with integrated assessments, and together with WP3 develops the ideas of a "flexible methodology" to apply and use a set of methods of different scales and Ecosystem Services as a base for the assessment.

At CEM she is currently updating CICES (Common International Classification for Ecosystem Services) with her team on the base of a recent international survey. CICES plays an important role in mapping and assessment within the MAES process, and hence ESMERALDA, but it also ties this work up with the efforts to develop ecosystem accounting methods that are being led by the United Nations.

"We need to find ways of helping people to apply ecosystem service classifications easily and to link it with other classification of ecosystems, ecological functions, benefits and beneficiaries and also different backgrounds and understandings of different groups of users. ESMERALDA will really contribute in these areas," concludes Marion.

Find out about other members here.



Find out more about each member of our team in ESMERALDA Insider. In this issue of the rubric Joachim Maes from the Joint Research Center of the European Commission shares his research interests and motivation in the project.

Joachim Maes is currently acting as a scientific and technical project officer at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), where he is heavily involved in research activities in support of the famous Action 5 of the Biodiversity Strategy, which is the Commission’s initiative to promote mapping and assessment in the member states.

With his work at the JRC having a one-to-one relationship with the objectives of ESMERALDA, Joachim is a deputy-coordinator and task leader of WP2.

About his research interests:

Working closely with policy-makers at the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission, Joachim would still refer to himself as an ecosystem services mapper before anything else.

Giving extra focus to urban ecosystems in his latest work, he is interested to understand the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services of human-dominated ecosystems such as cities and croplands and how it can be mapped and assessed.

Cities, in particular, qualify as laboratories for an ecosystem services approach. In cities the demand for ecosystem services such as clean air, access to green space or storm water regulation is usually high whereas the supply of these services typically runs short.

The new data revolution with the increasing availability of data at very high spatial and temporal resolution coming from different sources like remote sensing but also from citizens needs to be exploited better by ES research.

"I am quite happy with the new MAES report on urban ecosystems. The study showed that there is a lot of scope for urban ecosystem assessment," comments Joachim, "it delivers guidance on how to map urban ecosystems and how to assess their condition and services. An interesting finding is that the Natura 2000 covers as much as 17% of the EU’s urban areas. The management of urban biodiversity will become more important."

The MAES group , where Joachim is a member, is currently testing knowledge co-production as a new collaboration model for the Commission on how ecology and biodiversity policy can work together. This already exists for climate and water policy but it has to be extended to biodiversity policy.


Within ESMERALDA Joachim plays an important role facilitating the science-policy interface between the project and the European Commission updating both parties about ongoing developments.

The MAES urban pilot will continue to work during 2017 and 2018 and another step for collaboration would be for ESMERALDA partners who are planning an urban ecosystem assessment or who have interesting data on urban ecosystem services to join this initiative.

The new new Handbook on "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Impact Assessment", presents methodological guidance and discussion of international practice related to the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment. The volume edited by ESMERALDA researcher Davide Geneletti, features variety of case studies to provide examples of the use of information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in different types of impact assessment to improve decisions at all levels, from strategic choices to individual projects. The Handbook presents a range of applications and possible solutions to challenges in key policy and planning sectors, including urban development, land use, energy, marine areas, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, health and tourism.

Find the handbook on the following links:

The workshop Assessment and Economic Valuation of Recreational Ecosystem Services (RES) of Landscapes in EU Member States will take place at Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany, on September 12-13, 2016. The workshop picks up the challenge of assessing and valuing ecosystem services as stipulated by target 2, action 5 of the EU Biodiversity strategy (i.e. Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services – a process commonly abbreviated as MAES,

The objectives of the workshop are:

1. To bring together and discuss the best available knowledge concerning RES of landscapes in EU member states, that is spatial analysis and quantification of potentials, estimation of demand as well as actual use, and economic valuation,

2. To synthesize commonalities and differences, current bottlenecks and new ideas for further research to advance the theory and practice of RES mapping, assessment and economic valuation in the context of MAES, including suggestions for harmonizing the diversity of approaches,

3. To develop material and insights for a joint publication effort on the topic such as a special issue or joint paper, depending upon the interest of participants,

4. To initiate and enhance across EU member states’ knowledge exchange and cooperation around RES assessment and valuation approaches.

The workshop is planned as a 1,5 day meeting addressing (i) approaches and methods for assessing and mapping potentials of RES of landscapes, (ii) approaches and methods for modelling the demand as well asactual use of RES, and (iii) approaches and methods for the economic valuation of RES. A final session (iv) will integrate the results and discuss future steps of cooperation.

To join the workshop, fill in the registration form available in the conference flyer and send it to until July 31, 2016. If you wish to present a paper or a poster, please add a short abstract (max. 300 words). The number of participants will be restricted to ensure a reasonably size for collaboration. Therefore, only an early registration will assure your place. 

Our latest workshop, which took place from 14 to 16 April 2016 in Nottingham, UK, brought together 51 representatives from countries across Europe, including all ESMERALDA partners, together with potential new consortium members. During the event participants looked at developing a common understanding within ESMERALDA of methods for mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services, and how they could be used in the context of different ecosystem types, services, "tiers" and spatial scales, cross-referenced to the CICES framework.

Learn more about the workshop and its outcomes from the video:

Today, ESMERALDA is launching its brand new Insider rubric! Every few weeks we will post profiles of our consrtium members to give you insights on their research interests and role in the project. Tune in to learn about what motivates scientists in their work, and how are they hoping to contribute to society with their research.

To kick start the rubric, we feature two profiles -  our project coordinator Dr Benjamin Burkhard pioneers the initiative, alongside SYKE Senior researcher Dr Petteri Vihervaara.


Dr Burkhard is a geographer working as a senior researcher at Kiel University in Germany. Since 2001 he has worked on various ecosystem services projects, involved in research areas ranging across irrigated rice agriculture in Southeast Asia, landscape management in Finland, Bulgaria and integrative coastal zone management in the North Sea.

Being the first project where Dr Burkhard takes the coordinating role, here is what he shared with us on his experience and coming up with the idea behind ESMERALDA.


Dr Petteri Vihervaara is a senior research scientist at SYKE, currently also working as a research programme manager and coordinating SYKE’s Ecosystem Services research programme.

Lately, his work has been deeply linked with the implementation of the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES) work in Finland, as well as coordination of new research opportunities on the whole field of ecosystem services and biodiversity. Read more.


Follow the Insider rubric for more updates on the work of our researchers.



The first phase of ESMERALDA was dedicated to the identification of relevant stakeholders and stocktaking of the implementation of MAES (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services) in all EU member states.

One key outcome of this phase are the EU Country Fact sheets (project Milestone 09) containing information about each country’s MAES-related activities, implementation prerequisites and needs as well as relevant policy and research activities. The fact sheets were produced based on information collected by the ESMERALDA project partners as well as related policy and research activities such as the MAES Working Group and the MESEU project.

All fact sheets are now available on BISE, the Biodiversity Information System for Europe, for the different countries within the platform’s MAES-related developments in the European Union section.

The sharing of information between ESMERALDA and BISE is based on ESMERALDA Milestone 31, under which stakeholders from the European Commission, different institutions and projects meet regularly to discuss inter-operability of ESMERALDA outputs into common platforms.

Two other highly relevant outcomes from the first project phase are Deliverables 2.1 "Clustering of EU Member States according to their prerequisites and needs to perform ES mapping and assessment" and 2.2 "Ecosystem service mapping and assessment gaps in EU member states and recommendations to overcome them", giving an overview of the stocktaking of MAES implementation in EU member states. All publicly available reports can be downloaded here

With the aim of supporting EU countries in the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) process, ESMERALDA held a dedicated workshop to look at and discuss existing methods and how they could be used as part of an integrated assessment. 

The workshop, which took place from 14 to 16 April 2016 in Nottingham, UK, brought together 51 representatives from countries across Europe, including all ESMERALDA partners, together with potential new consortium members.

Participants at the ESMERALDA Workshop in Nottingham, UK, 14-16 April 2016; Photo Credit: Pensoft

Using results from existing and ongoing ESMERALDA reports, participants looked at developing a common understanding within ESMERALDA of methods for mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services, and how they could be used in the context of different ecosystem types, services, "tiers" and spatial scales, cross-referenced to the CICES framework.

ESMERALDA aims at supporting European countries in fulfilling their duties in relation to the EU Biodiversity Strategy’s Target 2 Action 5 "Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services" (MAES). In the second project phase that has just been started, ESMERALDA will develop a first version of a report on flexible methods for mapping and assessing ecosystem services.

In the discussion sessions the experts looked at biophysical, socio-cultural and economic methods in order to identify the potential relationships between ecosystem services and specific methods, as well as the potential linkages between the methods themselves.

Discussing biophysical methods for MAES in one of  five dedicated breakout groups during the workshop; Photo Credit: Pensoft

Results and feedback from the workshop will serve as a basis for the selection of methods to be used and tested within the project’s selected case studies. The final aim is to get an overview of available methods, their strengths and weaknesses and potential application for ES mapping and assessment to serve for building a holistic flexible methodology in the next phase of ESMERALDA.


Clockwise from top: Local host from Nottingham Roy Haines-Young on quantification of ecosystem services; ESMERALDA Coordinator Benjamin Burkhard opening the workshop; Field trip at the Melbourne Parklands; Photo Credits: Pensoft


A recent publication in Trends in Ecology & Evolution has posed some criticism on the concept of Ecosystem Services. The article authored by Jonathan Silvertown, University of Edinburgh, draws attention to the argument that this concept, encapsulating the ways in which human society depends upon the existence and functioning of nature, also draws power by chiming with dominant neoliberal ideology.

Since its publication, the article has received some attention from scientists that work within this sphere, resulting into several replies - some of which have been officially published alongside the original piece in the journal. The responses bring more points for consideration and invites for further more holistic and balanced debate within the discipline. ESMERALDA partner Marion Potschin and her colleagues are among the critical reviewers of the original paper.

Learn more and read the article, followed by all published responses here.