Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protecting ecosystems brings benefits to society

17.09.2012
A synthesis report for policy makers

Ecosystems are essential to our well-being and prosperity as they provide us with food, clean air and fresh water. Ecosystems also represent an exceptional source of outdoor recreation opportunities.



The functions performed by ecosystems that increase our well-being are called ecosystem services.

The PEER Research on EcoSystem Services (PRESS) initiative describes how different EU policies can help to increase the services and benefits provided by ecosystems, and calls for the inclusion of the ecosystem services approach into European policy measures affecting the use or state of natural resources.

The results of this research initiative were presented in Brussels on 13 September to an international panel of experts which helps DG Environment of the European Commission with the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. The report prepared to describe these results outlines a strategy which aims to promote a better understanding of how ecosystems and biodiversity provide essential benefits to our society.

Launched in 2010, the PRESS initiative demonstrated how European researchers, including social scientists, economists, and ecologists, can combine their expertise to map and assess the natural, social and economic values of ecosystems services.

The first phase of the study, which was concluded in September 2011 with the publication of a first PRESS report, demonstrated methodologies to map the role of ecosystems as providers of clean water and recreation and investigated how ecosystem services can be mainstreamed into agriculture, fisheries or forestry policies.

The second and final phase of the study consisted of case studies carried out on pollination, recreation and water purification to explore how assessment methods to measure and map ecosystem services might be developed at multiple spatial scales.

A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe: Methods, case studies and policy analysis - phase 2. Synthesis report is intended to convey four main policy messages:

• The capacity of wetlands, rivers, streams and lakes to remove or immobilise pollutants is essential to the provision of clean water for multiple uses and decreases costs of wastewater treatment based on technological solutions only.

New proposals of the European Commission to green the Common Agricultural Policy and to restore wetland ecosystems are predicted to have positive effects on water purification services, thereby improving water quality and increasing the economic benefits to society.

• Outdoor recreation services are one of the most immediate perceived benefits of ecosystems to people. The PRESS study presents evidence of high visitation rates to natural areas, in particular forests. Surveys show that citizens are willing to pay for continued access to forest ecosystems for recreation purposes. On a national scale, the value of forests for recreation may be in a range of billions of Euros. This value increases when we consider the avoided cost for health care due to the restorative and stress reduction capacity of recreational activities. Green urban areas such as city parks also have high recreational potential. The PRESS study report describes spatial methods to identify where investments in green urban areas reach their highest potential.

• Insects such as bees and bumblebees are key actors in providing pollination services to maintain Europe's crop production, in particular of fruit and vegetables. High resolution data of forests and riparian areas were used to map the ecosystems in which bees and bumblebees build nests and find nectar-carrying flowers. Such information is important to convince farmers to help manage and protect these habitats as they increase their agricultural output.

• The mapping, assessment and valuation of ecosystem services are necessary but not sufficient steps in achieving the ecosystem services targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. We need to develop a thorough understanding of how we determine the levels of the various ecosystem services and the impacts of current policies on ecosystems. Sound and cost-effective management of ecosystems should also take into account those EU policies that directly and indirectly influence ecosystems and the services they provide, e.g. policies designed to bring about social and economic changes, such as those on international trade, agriculture, land use, and nature conservation.

Including the ecosystem services concept in all social and economic policies would allow for a systematic review of their impacts on services, beyond conventional environmental assessments. The PRESS initiative recommends that new policies should be flexible in design and continuously monitored in order to be able to react and adapt to new circumstances, and that baseline levels and goals should be quantified in order to be able to measure progress. It calls for the broad collaboration of stakeholders at all levels, including researchers, policy makers, and citizens.

The PRESS-2 Synthesis report is available to download from www.peer.eu.
Printed copies may be requested by sending an email to info@peer.eu.
A full version of the technical report will be published online in the coming days.
http://www.peer.eu/index.php?id=234
&
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=30836
Project Coordinators
Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Alterra Wageningen UR
Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ)
For further information
info@peer.eu

Tilo Arnhold | UFZ News
Further information:
http://www.peer.eu
http://www.ufz.de

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>