A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe - The PRESS initiative (PEER Research on EcoSystem Services)


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Regional,Sub-regional,National,Sub-national,Single site
Country or countries covered Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Finland
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Local (urban) - Europe, Cities among others Amsterdam

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The PRESS initiative (PEER Research on EcoSystem Services) is a collaboration between PEER research institutes addressing some of the knowledge gaps which stand in the way of performing a spatially-explicit, biophysical, monetary and policy assessment of ecosystem services in Europe. The starting point is the need to upgrade the knowledge basis of land-use information and mapping to reflect the existing knowledge about ecosystem services and their social and economic values, to better inform policy design and decision making processes.

Mandate for the assessment

PEER is a partnership of seven of the largest European environmental centres founded in 2001 with the aim of combining forces to follow a joint strategy in environmental sciences and to enhance research on ecological sustainability. This co-operation was confirmed by a Framework Agreement signed on 25 June 2002 in Roskilde, and renewed in 2007 and 2012.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

PEER (2011) A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe: Methods, case studies and policy analysis -Phase 1 - PEER Report 3.

PEER (2012) A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe: Methods, case studies and policy analysis -Phase 2 - PEER Report 4.

System(s) assessed

  • Coastal
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Timber/fibres


  • Regulation of water quality
  • Pollination

Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


Maes et al., 2011 A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe: Methods, case studies and policy analysis -Phase 1 - PEER Report 3:

Maes et al., 2012 A spatial assessment of ecosystem services in Europe: Methods, case studies and policy analysis -Phase 2 - PEER Report 4:

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

PEER Brochure, http://www.peer.eu/publications/brochures/

Journal publications

Hauck, J., Görg, C., Varjopuro, R., Ratamäki, O., Jax, K. (2013) Benefits and limitations of the ecosystem services concept in environmental policy and decision making: Some stakeholder perspectives. Environmental Science and Policy, 25, 31-21.

Hauck J, Görg C, Varjopuro R, Ratamäki O, Maes J, Wittmer H, Jax J (2013) Maps have an air of authority”: Potentials and challenges of ecosystem service maps in decision making. Ecosystem Services. Article in Press.

La Notte A, Maes J, Grizzetti B, Bouraoui F, Zulian G, 2012 Spatially explicit monetary valuation of water purification services in the Mediterranean bio-geographical region. International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Ecosystem Services Management 8: 26-34.

Lautenbach S, Maes J, Kattwinkel M, Seppelt R, Strauch M, Scholz M , Schulz-Zunkel C , Volk M, Weinert J, Dormann CF (2012). Mapping water quality-related ecosystem services: concepts and applications for nitrogen retention and pesticide risk reduction. International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Ecosystem Services Management 8: 35-49.

Maes J, Egoh B, Willemen L, Liquete C, Vihervaara P, Schägner JP, Grizzetti B, Drakou EG, La Notte A, Zulian G, Bouraoui F, Paracchini ML, Braat L, Bidoglio G (2012) Mapping ecosystem services for policy support and decision making in the European Union. Ecosystem Services 1: 31-39.

Maes, J., Hauck, J., Paracchini, M.L., Ratamäki, O., Hutchins, M., Termansen, M., Furman, E., Pérez-Soba, M., Braat, L., Bidoglio, G. (2013) Mainstreaming ecosystem services into EU policy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5: 128-134.

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

See reports

Key stakeholder groups engaged

See reports

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • See reports

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

See reports

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The assessment is now part of the EC Common Implementation Framework (CIF) of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2011-2020, especially Target 2 – Action 5.

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Mapping Ecosystem Services is not being taught (extensively) in EU academic institutions. Most experts have started in Land Use modelling, Geography, etc. Team work makes results possible.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information

In PRESS 2, a policy analysis of EU issues is included which addresses drivers of change. Separate assessments were done depending on the ecosystem service that was considered. For water purification services, delivered by wetlands, rivers, lakes and streams, a policy analysis identified the trends and actions towards 2020 and proposed two scenarios based on existing policy proposals at EU level: greening the agricultural policy of the EU and increased investment in floodplains and wetlands. These scenarios were then computed in a land use model and the resulting impact on water purification services was assessed. The study investigated in particular scale issues by making the assessment at continental river basin and watershed scales. For recreation services, a scenario described future changes in population structure and urbanization. Next, the effect of this scenario on recreation was studied by addressing the recreation capacity and accessibility of ecosystems nearby population centres.

In PRESS 2 economic (incl monetary) impacts are presented. This was the case for the water purification and recreation services where the outputs of the biophysical assessment were used to assign monetary values.

Biodiversity was mainly considered at the scale of the ecosystem for water purification and recreation services. This refers to the different capacity that different ecosystems have regarding the supply of these services. For pollination, trait specific information at species level was used to map crop pollination potential at EU and national scales.