Petteri Vihervaara


ESMERALDA Insider: Dr. Petteri Vihervaara on the implementation of MAES in Finland


For the ESMERALDA Insider rubric we asked our scientists to share their research passions and their motivation in the project. Today, Dr. Petteri Vihervaara, from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

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.

On his work and research interests:

Coming from a "holistic biology" background, Dr. Vihervaara looks at MAES as a complex and multilayered process. Looking at ecosystem services as a phenomenon of socio-ecological systems, where humans are dependent of and interact with the environment and other biota, he looks at societal processes with the aim to understand how one species tries to manage its habitats sustainably, while at the same time participates and operationalizes in the process as an active agent.

Dr. Vihervaara’s close involvement in the MAES process in Finland determines his scientific interests currently stemming in two main directions:

●     Understanding the role of functional diversity for ecosystem services (especially the regulating ones).

●     Applying and improving the use of new techniques such as remote sensing and data sources for ecosystem monitoring and assessments.

Generally interested in the whole biosphere and social-ecological systems in it, for Dr. Vihervaara it is the local eco-evolutionary histories and variety of human cultures that makes the research always interesting and challenging.

When not working on ecosystem services, he enjoys the long-term peacefulness of gardening and old orchards, fun and team play of football, and improvisation of jazz music.

Credit: Riku Cajander


For Dr. Vihervaara Esmeralda is particularly  interesting and important because really covers almost all Member States of the EU thus making it possible to harmonize and improve ecosystem assessments at all scales. The success of the project means contributing to sustainability of societies in many ways from practical land use planning to decision-making and allocation of resources to improve restoration and new livelihoods. Within the project, Dr. Vihervaara is mainly participating in WP3 and 4, leading a task of Biophysical mapping and assessment methods.

On a national level for Finland, Dr. Vihervaara and colleagues have also established a framework of ecosystem services that combines CICES classification and cascade model, and published it in an internet platform

The webpage will perform as a National Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) of Finland for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).