Landscape-based approaches to ecosystem services modelling across scales

Authors and Affiliations: 

Benjamin Burkhard
Institute of Physical Geography & Landscape Ecology
Leibniz Universität Hannover
Schneiderberg 50
30167 Hannover, Germany

Corresponding author: 
Benjamin Burkhard

Ecosystem services have become a major topic in research and their potential for decision making has become obvious in the last years. What is lacking so far are practical examples where ecosystem services have led to improved decisions in planning, environmental management, business or societal behaviour. A multitude of ecosystem services frameworks has been created and applied. Thus, a broad range of indicators, models and other tools are ready to be applied to quantify and visualise ecosystem services. Ecosystem service quantifications are needed in order to understand, indicate and map stocks, demands and flows of ecosystem services on different spatial and temporal scales in landscapes. Therefore, it is necessary to know and to indicate where ecosystem services actually are supplied and what is the geobiophysical base (biodiversity and ecosystem functions) for this provision. Landscape-based approaches as well as the massive knowledge, methods and data from landscape ecology are ready to be applied in order to really understand landscapes and their role within ecosystem services flows. Additionally, information and data on ecosystem service demand, actual rates of ecosystem service consumption and how these components are interconnected (flows) are needed if the full potential of the ecosystem services concept should be harnessed. Several ecosystem services mapping and modelling approaches applicable on different spatio-temporal scales and levels of complexity (“tiered approach”) will be shown in this presentation and illustrated by project and case study applications.
Relevant policy instruments such as the Biodiversity Strategy 2020 of the European Union, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), carbon offsets and trading as well as conservation or compensation auctions, depend on robust quantification and information about goods and. Action 5 (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services MAES) of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy’s Target 2 sets the requirements for an EU-wide knowledge base of ecosystems and their services. The action is designed to create a primary resource for developing Europe’s green infrastructure, to identify areas for ecosystem restoration and a baseline against which the goal of ‘no net loss of BD and ES’ can be evaluated. As each piece of land can be dedicated to a limited (or single) amount of land-uses only, decision makers need to understand where and what goods and services are provided on this given piece of land, landscape, region, state, continent and globally. Then, budgets of ecosystem services supply and demand, synergies and trade-offs between selected or whole bundles of ecosystem services can be estimated. Maps and spatially explicit models allow the assignment of ecosystem services to particular multifunctional landscape units. Both are good models of real conditions and powerful tools to process complex data of interdisciplinary research into sound and easy to understand information.


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Burkhard B, Kroll F, Nedkov S, Müller F (2012) Mapping supply, demand and budgets of ecosystem services. Ecological Indicators 21: 17-29.

Maes J, Egoh B, Willemen L, Liquete C, Vihervaara P, Schägner JP, Grizzetti B, Drakou EG, Notte AL, Zulian G, Bouraoui F, Luisa Paracchini M, Braat L, Bidoglio G (2012) Mapping Ecosystem Services for policy support and decision making in the European Union. Ecosystem Services 1: 31-39.

Oral or poster: 
Oral presentation
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