New paper: Indicators for mapping and assessment of ecosystem condition and of the ecosystem service habitat maintenance in support of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020
A new research paper has been recently published in One Ecosystem Journal. It presents an ecosystem service framework implementation at landscape level to map and assess ecosystem condition and the “maintenance of nursery populations and habitats” ecosystem service (ES) (hereinafter called “habitat maintenance”), by combining a series of indicators with spatial modelling techniques.
It has been implemented at regional level (Attica Region, Greece) as a service case of the “Satellite-based Wetland Observation Service – SWOS” project (http://swos-service.eu), with a view to supporting and preserving biodiversity beyond protected networks and integrating wetlands protection into conservation planning. Earth Observation (EO) mapping products were coupled with EU biodiversity datasets, as a technical solution for the assessment and mapping of ecosystem condition and its potential to supply the “habitat maintenance” ES.
A key element in the approach is the mapping and assessment of ecosystem condition, expressed as a function of Biodiversity State and Anthropogenic Impact indicators. The landscape units with the most promising natural potential and the unprotected areas that possess the highest supply of the habitat maintenance ES, were identified and mapped. An interesting finding is that, even if strict or moderate protection is applied to a designated area, the natural potential significantly varies inside it. Additionally, that a significant part of the very high natural potential is located in unprotected land (outside N2K sites or nationally protected areas). By using, as an additional input, the level of protection, as a human response to biodiversity decline and loss, the spatial extent of the habitat maintenance ES supply areas (Service providing Units – SPUs) was quantified and mapped. Results demonstrated that not the full extent of areas of very high and high natural potentials maintain their capacity to supply the habitat maintenance, due to weak or lack of protection. Also, they showed that wetlands are a source of the habitat maintenance ES supply, either by being part of connected SPUs or by representing stepping stones (isolated wetlands). The identified spatial relationship patterns amongst the SPUs, the N2K sites (as the Service Benefit Areas – SBAs) and wetlands (as the Service Connecting Units – SCUs), provide baseline information to prioritise conservation and restoration, in the context of the EU demands for no net loss and for a connected N2K network.
The transferability of the proposed indicators at national or EU level could be further tested and improved to be used as a standard element in ES supply assessments.