Uncertainties in Ecosystem Service Maps: A Comparison on the European Scale

C.J.E. Schulp, B. Burkhard, J. Maes, J. van Vliet, P.H. Verburg

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    Safeguarding the benefits that ecosystems provide to society is increasingly included as a target in international policies. To support such policies, ecosystem service maps are made. However, there is little attention for the accuracy of these maps. We made a systematic review and quantitative comparison of ecosystem service maps on the European scale to generate insights in the uncertainty of ecosystem service maps and discuss the possibilities for quantitative validation. Maps of climate regulation and recreation were reasonably similar while large uncertainties among maps of erosion protection and flood regulation were observed. Pollination maps had a moderate similarity. Differences among the maps were caused by differences in indicator definition, level of process understanding, mapping aim, data sources and methodology. Absence of suitable observed data on ecosystem services provisioning hampers independent validation of the maps. Consequently, there are, so far, no accurate measures for ecosystem service map quality. Policy makers and other users need to be cautious when applying ecosystem service maps for decision-making. The results illustrate the need for better process understanding and data acquisition to advance ecosystem service mapping, modelling and validation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e0109643
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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