Science for Environment Policy has published a new on-depth report "Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity". In-depth reports are a feature of SEP, introduced in 2012, which take a comprehensive look at the latest science for key policy topics.

Ecosystems provide a multitude of benefits to humanity, from food, clean water and flood protection to cultural heritage and a sense of place, to name but a few. However, many of these benefits, known as ‘ecosystem services’, are under severe threat from man-made pressures. Decision makers need clear information on how biodiversity underpins these services, the demand for them, the capacity of ecosystems to provide them and the pressures impairing that capacity. In this report we explore four core facets of the ecosystem services concept: the links between biodiversity and ecosystem services; current techniques for mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services; valuation of ecosystem services and the importance of considering all ecosystem services and biodiversity as part of an interconnected system.

Original Source: 

Science for Environment Policy (2015) Ecosystem Services and the Environment. In-depth Report 11 produced for the European Commission, DG Environment by the Science Communication Unit, UWE, Bristol. Available at:

SYKE is looking to employ a person on a one-year contract, fixed-term employment contract for the poition of researher in the Helsinki office.

The task is to carry out research on green infrastructure and ecosystem services as part of land use planning, to execute related GIS analysis and to participate in method development especially to support sustainable land use planning, and to participate in writing funding applications.

To be successful in the tasks, the applicant should have a suitable university degree, deep and versatile command of geoinformatics (geoinformatics or geography as a main subject), basic knowledge of natural sciences, several years' working experience of related tasks, good spoken and written knowledge of Finnish and English, as well as good collaborative, interaction and communication skills. Doctoral degree is an advantage.

Further information can be requested from Head of Unit Riikka Paloniemi, tel. +358 295 251 493 and Senior Researcher Leena Kopperoinen, tel. +358 295 251 296.

Applications including a CV (based on the template of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity and a list of publications should be sent by using the web service: by Monday 8 June 2015 at 15.15 (CET) at the latest.  

Find out more information in the position offer attached below.


A new report "Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services: Trends in ecosystems and ecosystem services in the European Union between 2000 and 2010" is now availavle via the EC Joint Research Centre. 


This report presents an analysis of the trends in the spatial extent of ecosystems and in the supply and use of ecosystem services at the European scale between 2000 and 2010. In the EU urban land and forests increased while cropland, grassland and heathland decreased. Other ecosystem types underwent smaller changes. The main trends in provisioning, regulating and maintenance, and cultural ecosystem services were assessed using a set of 30 indicators assorted according to the CICES classification. More crops for food, feed and energy were produced in the EU on less arable land. More organic food was grown. Textile crop production and the total number of grazing livestock decreased. Water use relative to water availability remained stable. Timber removals increased but so, too, did the total timber stock. There was an increase in net ecosystem productivity (growing biomass). Several regulating services, but in particular those which are related to the presence of trees, woodland or forests, increased slightly. This was the case for water retention, forest carbon potential, erosion control, and air quality regulation. Pollination potential and habitat quality showed a negative trend. There was a positive trend in the opportunity for citizens to have access to land with a high recreation potential.

A new research featured in the latest issue of Science for Environment Policy (SEP) suggests that simple characteristics of plant species — such as height or leaf size — can be used to predict the ecosystem services provided by the green roofs they grow on. The researchers suggest that their method could be used to screen the thousands of potential plant species in order to optimize green roof design.

Green roofs on buildings are able to provide multiple ‘ecosystem services’ such as the reduction of heat loss from buildings in winter, the retention of stormwater and the provision of habitats. However, the delivery of such services may be dependent on the characteristics of the plant species grown on them.

For this study, the researchers investigated whether simple traits of plant species can be used to indicate the different ecosystem services that they might provide if they were part of a green roof. They measured four traits of 21 plant species in their natural habitats: plant height, the average leaf area and leaf weight of each species and the ‘specific leaf area’, which is the leaf’s area divided by its weight. The team then ran experiments with the 21 plant species grown separately in trays across a single green roof between 2007–2011.

Throughout the experiment the researchers recorded four properties of the green roof ecosystem: the density of the plant growth, the rate at which species covered the tray, the amount of sunlight reflected by the green roof and the accumulation of snow on the roof during winter (as this affects the temperature of the soil). The researchers could then relate the four simple measurements taken from the plants in their natural environments to the properties they would show as part of a green roof. For example, they found that taller plants were more likely to cover the roof at a faster rate.

The researchers also examined the ecosystem services provided, which were measured as the amount of stormwater captured, temperature changes in the soil during summer and winter, and changes to soil composition e.g. the amount of nitrate removed. In a final step the researchers used the four plant traits to predict ecosystem service provision. For example, leaf size could indicate the density of plant growth which would subsequently influence the temperature regulation provided by the green roof. 

Read the full brief here.

Original source:

Lundholm, J., Tran, S. & Gebert, L. (2015). Plant functional traits predict green roof ecosystem services. Environmental Science and Technology 49 (4): 2366- 2374. DOI: 10.1021/es505426z

BiodivERsA3 has officially launched its 2015 pan-European joint call for research proposals. The call, co-funded by the European Commission, will focus on understanding and managing the biodiversity dynamics to improve ecosystem services and functioning.

BiodivERsA is a network of 29 research-funding agencies across 18 European countries. It is an ERA-NEt Co-fund, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. BiodivERsA works to coordinate national research programmes on biodiversity across Europe and to organize international funding for research projects in this field.

The complete announcement on this call, including details on the topics, is listed here.

Scientific teams are invited to form international consortia comprising research groups from at least three countries participating in the BiodivERsA call. The complete list of participating countries can be found here.

The deadline for submission of pre-proposals (mandatory) is set on Monday 20 July 2015, 17:00 GMT +1:00. More information on the time schedule can be found here.