Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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).