Following the Millennium sub global assessment for Portugal, a contract was signed in August 2014 between ICNF (Institute for Nature Conservations and Forests - national authority for nature conservation and forests) and Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), to put in place a short term pilot MAES at Alentejo region (south Portugal) which has already been concluded and the main products will soon be made available at BISE. 

The work carried out focused on test, at a regional level, methodologies and indicators for mapping ecosystems (EUNIS based classification) assess their condition (Organic Matter Content, Ecological Value of Plant Communities, Phytodiversity, and Zoodiversity used as selected indicators for ecosystem condition) and ecosystem services (soil protection, climate regulation through carbon sequestration, fiber production, crops, and extensive animal production) in a spatial based framework. This short term project also comprised an approach to TEEB study in a protected area/Natura 2000 (Natural Park of Serra de São Mamede – also a Natura 2000 site) with a strong focus on mapping economic values of selected and restrict number of ecosystem services. Economic value estimates were based on available information and relied mainly on the use of avoided costs (carbon sequestration and soil protection (avoided erosion), willingness to pay (biodiversity), and market prices (crop, extensive animal, and fiber production) methods. Besides the need of a more comprehensive approach (not possible in a very short term study), results shows that future TEEB approaches in protected areas should highlight the added value of the protection status/regime of the area within the broader economy of the widescape region, taking into account the indicators used in the study.

During the course of this pilot MAES study ICNF is preparing a long term process, to be launched in 2016, and aimed at covering the mainland Portugal territory. As part of this effort it is foreseen the development of a MAES-related platform networking the most relevant scientific projects in course and data and information sources, and engaging other relevant stakeholders and public authorities.

In Portugal there is a lot of fragmented experience and interest from local level, stakeholders, NGOs and universities. The government launched several initiatives taking on board the importance of ecosystem services and natural capital for growth and jobs, such as green economy initiative, green tax reforms, TEEB approaches and ecosystem services assessment. The issue has been taking into account on partnership agreement and on the ongoing programming of ESIF 2014-2020.

Following an exploratory MAES PT workshop in January 2015, a kick-off MAES PT conference will be held in December 11, 2015, with the presentation of MAES Alentejo pilot and other national case projects and studies, the participation of the Commission/DG ENV-Directorate of Natural Capital, JRC and EEA to frame the EU approach, and a debate with scientific community, decision-makers, and private stakeholders on the views and perspectives of a national MAES PT and the foreseen outcomes for policy making up to 2020.

Reference should also be made to the close participation of Portuguese authorities in EU MAES pilot study on urban ecosystem services, promoted by DGT (General Directorate for Territory Development) together with three municipalities including Lisbon which will host an expert workshop in February 2016.

Previously in 2014, portuguese researchers also co-leaded the MAES EU pilot study on forest ecosystems and participate in the MAES EU pilot study on marine ecosystems.

Several projects headed by, or with the involvement of, Portuguese research teams are in course, including the involvement in other EU MAES activities, at national level, european level (e.g. OpenNESS, OPERA, ESMERALDA) and within IPBES global and regional assessments.

Date: 25/11/2015