Identifying and applying the appropriate method for ecosystem services mapping and assessment is not trivial. To provide guidance in this task, this paper describes the creation of a database for existing studies on mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services, which records relevant information to the ecosystem studies (e.g. methods used, the scale, ecosystem type, ecosystem service categories) and other relevant attributes that need to be considered. This database, therefore, forms the basis for an online ecosystem service ‘methods finder’. Our results provide an overview of the database itself (883 entries until April 2018) and the consultation within the ESMERALDA consortium that shaped its development, as well as providing an overview of the final mapping and assessment methods describing their spatial distribution. This work helps identify the main gaps and opportunities for alignment and development of commonalities in analytical approach amongst the individual Member States. The results illustrate the different conditions, dimensions and geographical contexts in Europe, information that can be used as background to help the development of a flexible methodology for mapping and assessing ecosystem services in Europe. The paper concludes with a discussion on how the typology of methods can be used in initiatives that aim to integrate ecosystems and their services in decision-making and planning. This work highlights some challenges for future activities on mapping and assessment of ecosystem services in the EU.
- Ecosystem services
- Methods classification