Mapping and Assessing the Condition of Europe's Ecosystems: Progress and Challenges - EEA Contribution to the Implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Berry, P.; Smith, A.; Eales, R.; Papadopoulou, L.; Erhard, M.; Meiner, A.; Bastrup-Birk, A.; Ivits, E.; Gelabert, E. R.; Dige, G.; Petersen, J.; Reker, J.; Cugny-Seguin, M.; Kristensen, P.; Estreguil, C.; Fritz, M.; Malak, D. A.; Maŕın, A.; Schröder, C.; Garcia-Feced, C.; Evans, D.; Conde, S.; Delbaere, B.; Naumann, S.; Davis, M.; Gerdes, H.; Graf, A.; Boon, A.; Stoker, B.; Teller, A.; Murphy, P.; Banfield, N.; Ostermann, O.; Mizgajski, A.; Mickiewicz, A.; Martin, F. S.; Jol, A.; Lükewille, A.; Werner, B.; Romao, C.; Desaulty, D.; Larsen, F. W.; Louwagie, G.; Zal, N.; Gawronska, S.; Uhel, R.; and Christiansen, T.
Mapping and Assessing the Condition of Europe's Ecosystems: Progress and Challenges - EEA Contribution to the Implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
[Excerpt: Executive summary] We depend on healthy and resilient ecosystems to continue to deliver a range of essential services, such as food, water, clean air and recreation, into the future. However, our natural capital is being lost to or degraded by pressures such as pollution, climate change, overexploitation and urban development. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 therefore sets a target to maintain and enhance ecosystems and their services by establishing green infrastructures and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems by 2020. Mapping ecosystems and their condition is essential for measuring progress towards this target. [\n] This report synthesises the European Environment Agency's (EEA's) work on ecosystem mapping and assessment over the last few years. The EEA approach builds on the work of the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) initiative, a collaboration between the European Commission, the EEA and Member States, which developed an analytical framework for assessment based on the DPSIR framework (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response). This framework allows an understanding of the causal chain of connections from human actions to impacts on the environment. For example, drivers such as increased consumption create pressures such as pollution and habitat loss, which affect the state (condition) of ecosystems and their ability to provide services essential for human well-being. Mapping and assessment of ecosystems aims to analyse the pressures and their effects on the condition of ecosystems, so that policymakers can design suitable responses. [\n] The challenge is to implement this framework using the data and other information that are available. There is a large amount of data and information, but much of it is not available for all regions or all ecosystems, or it is based on inconsistent classifications. Therefore the EEA has devoted considerable effort to assessing the existing data and information and building a feasible methodology around it. [\n] The EEA's approach therefore consists of the following stages: [::1] developing a suitable typology (classification) of broad ecosystem types to be used as the basis of the analysis, following the MAES approach and based on EUNIS (European Nature Information System) habitat classes and Corine (Coordination of Information on the Environment) land cover data; [::2] mapping the physical extent of these ecosystems across Europe; [::3] assessing the pressures acting on ecosystems, classified into five main groups – habitat change, climate change, overexploitation of resources, invasive alien species, and pollution or nutrient enrichment; [::4] assessing the current condition of ecosystems using data from the Habitats Directive (EC, 1992), the Birds Directive (EC, 2009), the Water Framework Directive (EC, 2000), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (EC, 2008a) and other sources (e.g. soil quality); [::5] investigating how to use available information on the relationship between pressures and biodiversity to map potential impacts of individual pressures on ecosystems, and exploring methods of weighting and summing multiple pressures onto a single map to assess their combined effect on biodiversity, environmental quality and ecosystem service delivery. [\n] The last step is at an early stage of development because of a lack of empirical evidence and is therefore only briefly mentioned in this report. [\n] This report describes the stages of the methodology, with a focus on data requirements, and then presents the ecosystem map for Europe. Analysis of the underlying data reveals that many ecosystems are highly concentrated in a small number of countries, which could increase their vulnerability to environmental change, and a substantial proportion of the most vulnerable ecosystems are not protected within Natura 2000 sites, Marine Protected Areas or equivalent zones. [\n] The main body of the report then applies the first four stages of the methodology to each of eight broad ecosystem types in Europe: urban, cropland, grassland, heathland and shrub (reported jointly with sparsely vegetated land), woodland and forest, wetlands, freshwater, and marine (the four MAES marine ecosystem classes were combined owing to lack of data on the separate classes). The report describes the main characteristics of each ecosystem and then assesses the pressures acting on it and the impact of those pressures on its component habitats and species. Finally, there is a section on policy response, which considers the tools available for policymakers to protect and restore the ecosystem and to manage the synergies and trade-offs between different ecosystem services. [\n] The assessments reveal similarities and differences, but also strong linkages between many ecosystems. Most striking is the level of threat to European ecosystems – well over half of all the habitats and species covered by the Habitats Directive are assessed as being in 'unfavourable' condition, and their status is generally declining or stable, with only a small proportion 'improving'. This is true for all eight ecosystem types. [\n] The EEA also carried out an initial assessment of current impacts and observed trends for the five main categories of pressures for each ecosystem. Habitat change, including loss and fragmentation, and pollution have had the greatest overall impact across ecosystems to date, and pressures are still increasing in more than 60 % of the cases. However, climate change pressures are projected to increase significantly across all ecosystems in future, which will probably lead to further impacts worsening their current condition. [\n] Ecosystem assessment and mapping can form a valuable knowledge base for policymakers, enabling them to look at the spatial variations in the pressures on different ecosystems across Europe. Information on the resulting impacts of these pressures on ecosystem condition can confirm the need for a policy response to tackle the underlying causes of ecosystem damage, for example by protecting key habitats or controlling pollution. The knowledge base can also be applied in planning the most effective green infrastructure investments and developing methods for natural capital accounting, so that the value of ecosystems can be taken into account in national or corporate policy decisions. Both of these opportunities are described in the report. [\n] Finally, the report identifies key gaps in knowledge and data that will need to be resolved to allow the future development of ecosystem assessment, including a lack of data on urban and marine ecosystems, a lack of understanding of the combined impacts of multiple pressures, a lack of detailed spatial data for mapping impacts on biodiversity, and a lack of understanding of the links between ecosystem condition, biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery.
@book{berryMappingAssessingCondition2016,
  title = {Mapping and Assessing the Condition of {{Europe}}'s Ecosystems: Progress and Challenges - {{EEA}} Contribution to the Implementation of the {{EU Biodiversity Strategy}} to 2020},
  author = {Berry, Pam and Smith, Alison and Eales, Ric and Papadopoulou, Liza and Erhard, Markus and Meiner, Andrus and Bastrup-Birk, Annemarie and Ivits, Eva and Gelabert, Eva R. and Dige, Gorm and Petersen, Jan-Erik and Reker, Johnny and Cugny-Seguin, Marie and Kristensen, Peter and Estreguil, Christine and Fritz, Marco and Malak, Dania A. and Maŕın, Ana and Schröder, Christoph and Garcia-Feced, Celia and Evans, Doug and Conde, Sophie and Delbaere, Ben and Naumann, Sandra and Davis, McKenna and Gerdes, Holger and Graf, Andreas and Boon, Arjen and Stoker, Beth and Teller, Anne and Murphy, Patrick and Banfield, Nicholas and Ostermann, Ole and Mizgajski, Andrzej and Mickiewicz, Adam and Martin, Fernando S. and Jol, Andre and Lükewille, Anke and Werner, Beate and Romao, Carlos and Desaulty, Daniel and Larsen, Frank W. and Louwagie, Geertrui and Zal, Nihat and Gawronska, Sylwia and Uhel, Ronan and Christiansen, Trine},
  editor = {Berry, Pam and Smith, Alison and Eales, Ric and Papadopoulou, Liza and Erhard, Markus and Meiner, Andrus},
  date = {2016},
  issn = {1977-8449},
  doi = {10.2800/417530},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.2800/417530},
  abstract = {[Excerpt: Executive summary]

We depend on healthy and resilient ecosystems to continue to deliver a range of essential services, such as food, water, clean air and recreation, into the future. However, our natural capital is being lost to or degraded by pressures such as pollution, climate change, overexploitation and urban development. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 therefore sets a target to maintain and enhance ecosystems and their services by establishing green infrastructures and restoring at least 15 \% of degraded ecosystems by 2020. Mapping ecosystems and their condition is essential for measuring progress towards this target.

[\textbackslash n] This report synthesises the European Environment Agency's (EEA's) work on ecosystem mapping and assessment over the last few years. The EEA approach builds on the work of the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) initiative, a collaboration between the European Commission, the EEA and Member States, which developed an analytical framework for assessment based on the DPSIR framework (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response). This framework allows an understanding of the causal chain of connections from human actions to impacts on the environment. For example, drivers such as increased consumption create pressures such as pollution and habitat loss, which affect the state (condition) of ecosystems and their ability to provide services essential for human well-being. Mapping and assessment of ecosystems aims to analyse the pressures and their effects on the condition of ecosystems, so that policymakers can design suitable responses.

[\textbackslash n] The challenge is to implement this framework using the data and other information that are available. There is a large amount of data and information, but much of it is not available for all regions or all ecosystems, or it is based on inconsistent classifications. Therefore the EEA has devoted considerable effort to assessing the existing data and information and building a feasible methodology around it.

[\textbackslash n] The EEA's approach therefore consists of the following stages:

[::1] developing a suitable typology (classification) of broad ecosystem types to be used as the basis of the analysis, following the MAES approach and based on EUNIS (European Nature Information System) habitat classes and Corine (Coordination of Information on the Environment) land cover data;

[::2] mapping the physical extent of these ecosystems across Europe;

[::3] assessing the pressures acting on ecosystems, classified into five main groups -- habitat change, climate change, overexploitation of resources, invasive alien species, and pollution or nutrient enrichment;

[::4] assessing the current condition of ecosystems using data from the Habitats Directive (EC, 1992), the Birds Directive (EC, 2009), the Water Framework Directive (EC, 2000), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (EC, 2008a) and other sources (e.g. soil quality);

[::5] investigating how to use available information on the relationship between pressures and biodiversity to map potential impacts of individual pressures on ecosystems, and exploring methods of weighting and summing multiple pressures onto a single map to assess their combined effect on biodiversity, environmental quality and ecosystem service delivery.

[\textbackslash n] The last step is at an early stage of development because of a lack of empirical evidence and is therefore only briefly mentioned in this report.

[\textbackslash n] This report describes the stages of the methodology, with a focus on data requirements, and then presents the ecosystem map for Europe. Analysis of the underlying data reveals that many ecosystems are highly concentrated in a small number of countries, which could increase their vulnerability to environmental change, and a substantial proportion of the most vulnerable ecosystems are not protected within Natura 2000 sites, Marine Protected Areas or equivalent zones.

[\textbackslash n] The main body of the report then applies the first four stages of the methodology to each of eight broad ecosystem types in Europe: urban, cropland, grassland, heathland and shrub (reported jointly with sparsely vegetated land), woodland and forest, wetlands, freshwater, and marine (the four MAES marine ecosystem classes were combined owing to lack of data on the separate classes). The report describes the main characteristics of each ecosystem and then assesses the pressures acting on it and the impact of those pressures on its component habitats and species. Finally, there is a section on policy response, which considers the tools available for policymakers to protect and restore the ecosystem and to manage the synergies and trade-offs between different ecosystem services.

[\textbackslash n] The assessments reveal similarities and differences, but also strong linkages between many ecosystems. Most striking is the level of threat to European ecosystems -- well over half of all the habitats and species covered by the Habitats Directive are assessed as being in 'unfavourable' condition, and their status is generally declining or stable, with only a small proportion 'improving'. This is true for all eight ecosystem types.

[\textbackslash n] The EEA also carried out an initial assessment of current impacts and observed trends for the five main categories of pressures for each ecosystem. Habitat change, including loss and fragmentation, and pollution have had the greatest overall impact across ecosystems to date, and pressures are still increasing in more than 60 \% of the cases. However, climate change pressures are projected to increase significantly across all ecosystems in future, which will probably lead to further impacts worsening their current condition.

[\textbackslash n] Ecosystem assessment and mapping can form a valuable knowledge base for policymakers, enabling them to look at the spatial variations in the pressures on different ecosystems across Europe. Information on the resulting impacts of these pressures on ecosystem condition can confirm the need for a policy response to tackle the underlying causes of ecosystem damage, for example by protecting key habitats or controlling pollution. The knowledge base can also be applied in planning the most effective green infrastructure investments and developing methods for natural capital accounting, so that the value of ecosystems can be taken into account in national or corporate policy decisions. Both of these opportunities are described in the report.

[\textbackslash n] Finally, the report identifies key gaps in knowledge and data that will need to be resolved to allow the future development of ecosystem assessment, including a lack of data on urban and marine ecosystems, a lack of understanding of the combined impacts of multiple pressures, a lack of detailed spatial data for mapping impacts on biodiversity, and a lack of understanding of the links between ecosystem condition, biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery.},
  isbn = {978-92-9213-726-7},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13938821,~to-add-doi-URL,assessment,biodiversity,ecosystem,ecosystem-services,europe,european-union,indicators,indices,mapping,modelling},
  number = {3/2016},
  series = {{{EEA Report}}}
}
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