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Home » Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)

Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)

High-Level Conference on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) in Europe
Brussels, 22 May 2014
Recorded sessions available here

Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 calls Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory with the assistance of the European Commission. A dedicated Working Group has been established under the CIF to deliver under Action 5.

Why are we doing this?

In line with the Millennium Ecosystem assessment (MA), the objective of the EU assessment is to provide a critical evaluation of the best available information for guiding decisions on complex public issues. The work being carried out is important for the advancement of biodiversity objectives, and also to inform the development and implementation of related policies, on water, climate, agriculture, forest, and regional planning. Robust, reliable and comparable data are also important for the planning and implementation of individual projects.

Why mapping?

Maps are useful for spatially explicit prioritisation and problem identification, especially in relation to synergies and trade-offs among different ecosystem services, and between ecosystem services and biodiversity. Further, maps can be used as a communication tool to initiate discussions with stakeholders, visualizing the locations where valuable ecosystem services are produced or used and explaining the relevance of ecosystem services to the public in their territory. 

MAES Analytical Framework

A first outcome is the development of a coherent analytical framework to be applied by the EU and its Member States in order to ensure consistent approaches are used. It is therefore framed by a broad set of key policy questions. It is structured around a conceptual framework that links human societies and their well-being with the environment.  


Conceptual framework for EU wide ecosystem assessment

Conceptual framework for EU wide ecosystem assessment




Typology of ecosystems

The proposed typology distinguishes 12 main ecosystem types based on the higher levels of the EUNIS Habitat Classification, which is a European reference classification with cross linkages to the habitat types listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive.


Correspondence between Corine Land Cover classes and ecosystem types

The mapping of ecosystems is largely dependent on the availability of land-cover/land-use datasets at various spatial resolutions. The most comprehensive dataset for terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems at EU level is Corine Land Cover (CLC). The CLC dataset allows also mapping of one of the four marine ecosystems (marine inlets and transitional waters).


Crosswalks between European marine habitat typologies

The harmonisation of ecosystem definitions and mapping in the marine environment is supported by crosswalks between the EUNIS habitat classification (marine component), the predominant habitat types of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) and the habitat types used by the EUSeaMap as well as by clarifications on the links between the coastal and marine habitat types in Annex I of the Habitats Directive.

Ecosystem services 


Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES)  

CICES builds on the existing classifications (MA, TEEB) but focuses on the ecosystem service dimension. In the CICES system services are either provided by living organisms (biota) or by a combination of living organisms and abiotic processes. 


Categories of ecosystem services (MA, TEEB and CICES)

The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) developed for environmental accounting purposes is proposed as classification system of ecosystem services as it offers a structure that links with the framework of the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA 2003). 


Mapping ecosystems


The Ecosystem Services Partnership Visualisation tool


MAES catalogue of case-studies


MAES digital atlas


Glossary of terms


Further reading