1. Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) in Luxembourg
Coordinators: MDDI (Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg / contact: Nora Elvinger) & Stefan Kleeschulte – space4environment sàrl (Luxembourg)
Ecosystem services are well integrated in the Luxembourgish political debate and are getting more and more included in the national legislation. To date the policy support reference textbook on the topic of ecosystem services is the MAES report for Luxembourg, commissioned by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure (MDDI) in 2013 and released by space4environment sàrl around 2 years later. This study comes after an initial qualitative pilot study performed by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST, formerly CRP Henri Tudor) to design a Luxembourg’s ecosystem services assessment within the framework of TEEB (The Economic of Ecosystem and Biodiversity) initiative.
For the public Luxembourgish land management authorities (but also for the common European effort for understanding and comparing the health/condition of ecosystems), this MAES report represents an important step in the identification, assessment and quantification of target ecosystem services within the country, and is certainly the most extensive national mapping exercise conducted so far to benchmark the status of ecosystems according to the international Action 5 (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem and their Services, MAES) of Target 2 in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
Despite some limitations regarding data availability and methods that need future improvement (mostly related to the lack of time-series biophysical data and information to ensure a robust and spatially-explicit assessment of some target services), the MAES Luxembourg project has identified and mapped the following 13 priority ecosystem services for the country:
- Food provision through crops
- Food provision through animal husbandry
- Provision of water
- Provision of biotic energy
- Pollution control in water, air and soil
- Physico-chemical screening
- Prevention of erosion and mass flows
- Regulation of floods and water flows
- Lifecycle maintenance
- Pedogenesis and maintenance of soil quality
- Global climate regulation
- Recreation opportunities
The MAES report can be downloaded at: http://catalogue.biodiversity.europa.eu/uploads/document/file/1299/MAES_LUX_Case_Studies_20151218_Updated.pdf
As a next step to the mapping of concerned ecosystems, the assessment of their condition and the biophysical quantification of the above mentioned 13 services, the European Biodiversity strategy by 2020 and the related MAES approach foresee to perform an integrated ecosystem assessment in which ES trade-offs will be evaluated and synergies valued also with monetary-based techniques. In this regard, a feasibility study focused on the development of a decision support tool for land management and ecosystem service assessment in Luxembourg has been performed in 2017 (TESaLux), from which a first attempt to create a methodology to quantify and monetize ecosystem services has been provided by analysing the potential impact of future land use changes in Luxembourg on the wild bee’s pollination service and the associated crop yields.
2. The project « Naturpakt »
Coordinator: MDDI (Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg / contact: Nora Elvinger) & Stefan Kleeschulte – space4environment sàrl (Luxembourg)
The “Naturpakt” project (pact for nature) aims at raising awareness of the value of ecosystems and ecosystem services in planning and decision making at municipal level. The project is a follow-up of the MAES activities described above and has been financed and initiated by the Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (MDDI) in collaboration with two pilot municipalities in Luxembourg (Useldange and Bertrange).
Similar to the “Klimapakt” in which municipalities agree to implement measures aiming at climate protection in the frame of the European Energy Award, the “Naturpakt” lists a number of measures aiming at preserving nature and natural resources.
In order to assess progress towards reaching healthy ecosystems, a series of 73 measures and criteria have been defined. The measures themselves refer to individual ecosystem services that they support, and belong to one of the following seven categories:
- Nature protection in general – mainly strategic goals
- Urban areas – municipal and private green
- Open land – sustainable use of land and support to the biological diversity
- Water – provision of clean water and energy, wetlands
- Forest – provision of timber, water, recreations
- Cooperation – awareness raising activities
Based on the list of measures each municipality can perform a self-assessment, to get a total number of points for the implementation of specific measures and thus an appreciation how much they contribute to the maintenance or restoration of ecosystem services.
3. Outputs belonging to other research programmes and project activities
Coordinator: Benedetto Rugani (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology)
Projects funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund
Basic research on ecosystem services in Luxembourg is mainly conducted by researchers of the Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN) department at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). In 2014, an interdisciplinary and international research project called VALUES was initiated by LIST with the goal to improve the evaluation of ecosystem services within the framework of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), an ISO-14040:2006 standardized method to assess the environmental impacts of products and technologies. Because of its link to LCA, VALUES’ leitmotiv was to serve the design of sustainable development strategies at different technology and service production scales. The project, closed in 2018, brought to among others to the development of an integrated modelling approach for the impact assessment of land use changes on pollination and carbon sequestration services in Luxembourg.
As a follow-up of VALUES, the ESTIMUM project was designed and started in 2017 to develop an integrated spatially-explicit operational instrument for simulating the value change (both monetary and physical) of ecosystem services over time at multiple urban scales. A toolbox, called MIMES-TUM (Multiscale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services Tailored for Urban Metabolism), is under construction in ESTIMUM to evaluate ecosystem service trade-offs (e.g. air purification, noise reduction, urban cooling, runoff mitigation, food provision) in urban regions, among which the city of Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg.
In parallel, LIST is also work package leader in the European H2020 project Nature4Cities, with the aim to upscale the scientific knowledge developed in the VALUES project to create an integrated forecasting assessment model that allows the application of an ecosystem services valuation scale associated with specific scenarios of nature-based solutions (NBS) implementation in cities.
Moreover, within the MULTISILVA postdoc project (starting on 1st January 2019), LIST will develop a spatially and temporally explicit Decision Support System (DSS) in collaboration with the Luxembourgish company “Luxplan S.A.”. This tool will i) support public forest managers in addressing the demand of ecosystem services from the local stakeholders, ii) help understanding the trade-offs between different forest management alternatives, and iii) facilitate the communication on the forest management strategy and the expected outcomes. In the long run, such a DSS will also help forest owners to identify potential buyers of ecosystem services in Luxembourg and hence set the road toward the implementation of payment of ecosystem services (PES) in the country.
Projects related to European legislation/to the implementation of European legislation
On top of the above mentioned initiatives, it is worth reminding about the establishment of a Natura 2000 network in Luxembourg as a part of the European Commission’s Habitat Directive to protect rare habitats and species and the Birds Directive to protect all relevant breeding and migratory birds in Europe. This Natura 2000 network includes Sites of Community Importance (SCI), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Areas (SPA).
In this regard, the European Commission has invested in identifying the socio-economic values generated from Natura 2000 sites and developed specific financial schemes to conserve Natura 2000. One of the most prominent tools is the LIFE Programme, which funds i.e. restoration projects that contribute to the coherence of the Natura 2000 network.. The Luxembourgish government designated 48 Special Areas of Conservation and 12 Special Protected Areas which cover 70’171 ha, representing 27.13% of the total area of Luxembourg. The sites are located all over the country and englobe for example the valleys formed by the Mamer and the Eisch, the “Grengewald” and the valleys formed by the black Ernz, the upper Sauer and the Our.Across those sites several initiatives are on-going to protect local biodiversity and enhance the provision of ecosystem services by conducting specific land restoration activities within the framework of some LIFE projects. For example, natur&ëmwelt a.s.b.l. has been operating with the LIFE EISLEK (http://life-eislek.eu/) and LIFE RESTO-UNIO (http://www.unio.lu/) projects since 2012, with the aim to restore the habitats for some focal species and habitats and promote biodiversity in the study areas.
In parallel to these activities, it is worth mentioning that the European Regulation 691/2011 establishes that all EU Member States (thus also Luxembourg) and EFTA countries must provide harmonized information, structured in modules, on the environmental accounts associated with economic sector activities consistently with the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012 − Central Framework (SEEA 2012 CF: https://seea.un.org/). The Regulation includes the following six modules: Air emissions accounts (AEA), Economy-wide material flow accounts (EW-MFA), Physical energy flow accounts (PEFA), Environmental taxes, Environmental goods and services sector (EGSS) accounts, and Environmental protection expenditure accounts (EPEA).
Despite the fact that there is a link between these six accounts and the ecosystem services concept, there is no EU legal basis yet for including other specific ecosystem service-based accounts into the SEEA 2012 CF. Nevertheless, several countries (including Luxembourg, through its statistical office “Statec”) have already started a process of collection and harmonization of data on Forest accounts, Water accounts and Ecosystem accounts, the latter according to the recently released Technical Recommendations in support of the SEEA – Experimental Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA EEA) 2012. The SEEA EEA is framed within the international initiative on Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services and represents the starting point and fundamental basis to build and set up ES related extensions to complement the System of National Accounts and the SEEA 2012 CF.
Statec has recently initiated the development of a methodology to collect and
harmonize data and knowledge on ecosystem services according to the SEEA EEA framework.
 Becerra-Jurado, G., Philipsen, C., Kleeschulte, S. (2015). Mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services in Luxembourg – Final Synthesis Report. space4environment sàrl; Ministère du développement durable et des infrastructures (MDDI) / Département de l’environnement, Luxembourg.
 Panasiuk, D., Hild, P., Arbault, D., Benetto, E. (2013). Etude préliminaire d’emploi d’une démarche TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) au Luxembourg. Luxembourg: CRP HENRI TUDOR/CRTE, rapport final, 29 janvier 2013.
 Target 2 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 aims at maintaining and restoring ecosystems and their services by 2020, by establishing a green infrastructure and restoring at least 15% of degraded ecosystems.
 Rugani, B., Othoniel, B. (2017). TESaLux: Towards a decision-support tool for land management and Ecosystem Service assessment in Luxembourg – Report. Environmental Research & Innovation department (ERIN) / Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). Preparatory study for the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure (MDDI) of Luxembourg.
 Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
 Sundseth, K. (2008). Natura 2000: Protecting Europe’s biodiveristy. European Commission, Directorate General for the Environment; p. 292.
 EU Birds Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds.
 European Commission (2016). Integration of Natura 2000 and biodiversity into EU funding (EAFRD, ERDF, CF, EMFF, ESF). Analysis of a selection of operational programmes approved for 2014-2020. Document prepared for the European Commission by the N2K GROUP under contract N° 070202/2014/692494/SER/B3 ‘Technical and scientific support in relation to the Habitats and Birds Directives’.
 Račinska, I., Barratt, L., Marouli, C. (2015). LIFE and land stewardship: Current status, challenges, and opportunities. Report to the European Commission. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/publications/lifepublications/generalpublications/documents/life_land_stewardship.pdf.
 The 4 EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries are: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
 La Notte, A., Vallecillo, S., Polce, C., Zulian, G., Maes, J. (2017). Implementing an EU system of accounting for ecosystems and their services: Initial proposals for the implementation of ecosystem services accounts. EUR28681 EN; Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, doi: 10.2760/214137, JRC107150.