Enhancing ecoSysteM sERvices mApping for poLicy and Decision mAking (ESMERALDA)

Mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services (ES) are core to the EU Biodiversity (BD) Strategy. They are essential if we are to make informed decisions. Action 5 sets the requirement for an EU-wide knowledge base designed to be: a primary data source for developing Europe’s green infrastructure; resource to identify areas for ecosystem restoration; and, a baseline against which the goal of ‘no net loss of BD and ES’ can be evaluated.

In response to these requirements, ESMERALDA (Enhancing ecoSysteM sERvices mApping for poLicy and Decision mAking) aims to deliver a flexible methodology to provide the building blocks for pan-European and regional assessments. The work will ensure the timely delivery to EU member states in relation to Action 5 of the BD Strategy, supporting the needs of assessments in relation to the requirements for planning, agriculture, climate, water and nature policy. This methodology will build on existing ES projects and databases (e.g. MAES, OpenNESS, OPERAs, national studies), the Millennium Assessment (MA) and TEEB. ESMERALDA will identify relevant stakeholders and take stock of their requirements at EU, national and regional levels.

 The objective of ESMERALDA is to share experience through an active process of dialogue and knowledge co-creation that will enable participants to achieve the Action 5 aims. The mapping approach proposed will integrate biophysical, social and economic assessment techniques. Flexibility will be achieved by the creation of a tiered methodology that will encompass both simple (Tier 1) and more complex (Tier 3) approaches. The work will exploit expert- and land cover-based methods, existing ES indicator data and more complex ES models. As a result the outcomes will be applicable in different contexts. The strength of the ESMERALDA consortium lies in its ability to make solutions for mapping and assessment problems available to stakeholders from the start of the project, because our expertise allows us to build on existing research projects and data sharing systems.

Main outcomes:

  • an overview of the state of ES mapping and assessment in EU member states;
  • a flexible methodology and tiered approach for ES mapping, valuation, accounting and assessment;
  • methods for developing high quality and consistent information on the condition of ecosystems and their services;
  • exemplar applications from selected representative case studies (agriculture, forestry, marine areas, others);
  • an online data sharing system for maps;
  • a set of practical policy recommendations;
  • a set of recommendations for the future development and implementation of related policies;
  • practical guidance, data and tools for using BD and ecosystem-related data in other policies.

Work package 1: Coordination and integration
 The overall objectives of WP1 are twofold: i) to provide a strong, coherent and transparent coordination in administrative management terms; ii) coordinating and integrating the scientific contents of the project, ensuring that ESMERALDA reaches its overall goals and that the various objectives are integrated and their Deliverables produced in a timely and efficient manner. 

Work package 2: Stakeholder network& implementation 
 The overall objective of WP2 is to develop and facilitate a stakeholder process throughout the project and the creation of a European network to facilitate a dialogue among relevant communities.

Work package 3: Mapping methods
 The overall objective for WP3 is to assess the current state of ES mapping in the EU and to develop a multi- tiered flexible ES mapping methodology to integrate the three value domains of ES (biophysical, economic and social) at different spatial and temporal scales.

Work package 4: Assessment methods
The overall objective of WP4 is to develop an integrated and consistent assessment framework in which different mapping approaches and techniques can be embedded.

Work package 5: Methods testing
The overall objective of WP5 is to test the proposed methods to map and assess ecosystem services to ensure that they meet users’ requirements for all relevant themes, spatial scales and geographical contexts.

Work package 6: Dissemination& Knowledge exchange
The overall objective for WP6 is to embed the project results within a larger community of learning and practice and effectively disseminate the research process and outcomes to a wide range of relevant target groups with special emphasis on environmental policy related issues.



Project funded by

European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme

Project partners

Lead partner
Christian Albrechts University Kiel

Finnish Environment Institute
Autonomous University of Madrid
University of Nottingham CEM
University of Trento
Pensoft Publishers Ltd
Free University of Amsterdam
Flemish Institute for Technological Research
National Institute in Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Global Change Research Centre
Foundation for Sustainable Development
ETH Zürich
Baltic Environmental Forum
Regional Environmental Centre
Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Instituto Superior Técnico
University of Bucharest
Paris-Lodron University Salzburg
Uiversity of Poznan
Institute for Environmental & Agricult. Science & Research
Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology
University of Copenhagen
Joint Research Centre

Project number

No 642007

More information

Anda Ruskule
Environmental expert
 el. 00371 6735 7548