Spanish National Ecosystem Assessment


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment National
Country or countries covered Spain
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name


Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

  1. Improve the understanding of the relationships between ecosystems, biodiversity and human wellbing in Spain.

  2. Identify priorities for action on environmental problems.

  3. Create a knowledge base of the interface nature-society based on the framework of sustainability science.

  4. Characterize and prioritize response options to implement development strategies grounded in the social dimension of ecosystems and biodiversity.

  5. Establish research priorities in a new scientific agenda focused on the interactions nature and society.

  6. Serve as a benchmark for future assessments.

Mandate for the assessment

Spanish National Ecosystem Assessment , promoted by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, starts in 2009 following the United Nations initiative, that aims to generate robust, scientifically validated on the relevance of ecosystem services in Spain and its importance to human wellbieng of our society.

From the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, we work to preserve the health of the ecosystem issues, restore functionality and ensure the maintenance of the important services they provide to society. Therefore, we understand the importance of reliable scientific information about the value of biodiversity and promote its dissemination and consideration in decision-making.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

Conceptual model

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Dryland
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

By taxonomic group distribution of the number of known species in Spain

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Timber/fibres
  • Genetic resources
  • Medicinal resources
  • Energy/fuel
  • Gene pool


  • Air quality
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Regulation of water quality
  • Erosion prevention
  • Pollination
  • Pest and disease control
  • Maintainence of soil fertility
  • Biological control
  • Pollination

Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism
  • Local ecological knowledge
  • Recreation activities
  • Environmental education
  • Scientific knowledge
  • Sense of belonging and cultural identity

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

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

Newsletter 1

Newsletter 2

Newsletter 3

Newsletter 4

Newsletter 5

Postal 1

Postal 2

Postal 3

Postal 4

Poster Ecosystem services

Poster urban ecosystem

Journal publications

Barragán Muñoz, J.M. y Chica Ruiz, J.A. 2013. Evaluación de los Ecosistemas litorales del Milenio de España: una herramienta para la sostenibilidad de la zona costera. Eubacteria 31:9-14.

La Evaluación de los Ecosistemas del Milenio en España. Del equilibrio entre la conservación y el desarrollo a la conservación para el bienestar humano. Ambienta 98.

Martín-Lopez, B., García-Llorente, M., Iniesta Arandia, I., Castro, A.J, Willaarts, B., Aguilera, P.A. y Montes, C. 2013. La evaluación de los servicios de los ecosistemas suministrados por las cuencas hidrográficas del sureste semiárido andaluz. Eubacteria 31:31-37.

Martín-López, B., Gómez-Bagghetun, E., García-Llorente, M., Montes, C. 2013. Trade-offs across value-domains in ecosystem services assessments. Ecological Indicators.

Martín-López, B., Iniesta-Arandia, I., García-Llorente, M., Palomo, I., Casado-Arzuaga, I., García del Amo, D., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Oteros-Rozas, E., Palacios-Agundez, I., Willaarts, B., González, J.A., Santos-Martín, F., Onaindia, M., López-Santiago, C.A., Montes, C. 2012. Uncovering Ecosystem Service Bundles through Social Preferences. PLoS ONE 7(6): e38970.

Santos-Martín F, B Martín-López, M García-Llorente, M Aguado, J Benayas, Montes, C. 2013. Unraveling the Relationships between Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing in Spain. PloS one 8 (9), e73249

Santos-Martín F, C Montes. 2013 La evaluación de los ecosistemas del milenio de España. Del equilibrio entre la conservación y el desarrollo a la conservación para el bienestar humano. Eubacteria 31 (1697-0071), 1-8

Suárez Alonso, M.L. y Vidal-Abarca Gutiérrez, M.R. 2013. ¿Qué hacen los ríos y riberas por nosotros?: estado actual y tendencias de los ecosistemas de ríos y riberas españoles en relación a los servicios que proporcionan a la sociedad. Eubacteria 31:24-30.

Training materials

Education material

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Trade-off analysis
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation
  • Stakeholder and experts consultations

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

Participation is the basis of social action and intervention. Therefore one of the main objectives of the communication strategy has been to promote social networking and involvement of organizations and individuals around the topic of the project. To achieve this it is essential to encourage involvement and participation processes, mainly those entities and actors who share the same vision and scope for action in relation to the management of the capacity of ecosystems to generate services.

Therefore EME communication bet for being open and adapted to different possibilities for relations between social agents. It has identified the degree of interest shown by various social sectors to the project from the survey of one hundred entities.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Public bodies (n = 15):  Natural areas (n = 7)  NGOs, foundations and unions (n = 29)  Companies and consultants (n = 15)  Media (n = 4)  Universities and scientific associations (n = 5)  Professional Associations (n = 4)  Homeowners associations (n = 2)  Entities mixed (n = 6)

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)

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

To be developed

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

This study was developed using indicators (mainly based on biophysical and economic characteristic) related to to the state of biodiversity, ecosystem services, human wellbeing, drivers of change, both and indirect, and response options from public institutions.

Indicators used in this analysis were followed different criteria: a. Officials of Statistics (eg, INE, FAO, Web of Knowledge). b. Historical series complete or nearly complete between 1960-2010. c. National scale information • Ability to express information (no ambiguous, sensitive to change and widely accepted). D. Homogenization with MA and other subglobal assessments.

Policy impact

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

The project is been cited in the Spanish Biodiversity Strategy (2011-2017)

The porjec is part of the working group MAES (Mapping and Assessment of Ecocystems and their services) created by the EU commission.


Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Although under this framework the project has achieved in recent years to increase awareness of the links between ecosystems and human well-being through the flow of services generated under different management models, we still need much more information to make policy instruments are more successful. We lack a robust theoretical basis that allows us to understand the relationships between ecological diversity and dynamics of ecosystems and thus their ability to generate functions or services. We need this information to know the limits and consequences of biodiversity loss and therefore the actions necessary to maintain or restore ecosystem functions.

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Introduce to all social stakeholders , economic, political and scientific the methods and principal results of the National Ecosystem Assessment in Spain and hear their information needs and contributions regarding ecosystem services, to ensure that the resulting information is useful to them, and take into account the different actors involved or dependent on ecosystem services.

 Develop external communication tools adapted to the needs of different target audiences or stakeholders, as well as innovative formats and channels for disseminating the results of EME in different social spheres: the media, the academic community, NGOs and social organizations...

 Characterize the messages that define the project approach in the human-nature relationship and build a graphic identity for the project and a multiplication of EME message through existing channels and networks.

 Contribute to the dissemination and projection of Millennium Ecosystem Assessment internationally (sub-global assessments (SGA), Ecosystem services Partnership (ESP) and other initiatives at European level.

 Increase interaction and information flow between the scientific, policy-makers, operators and society at large to improve decision making in the management of ecosystems according to the project objectives.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Formal training, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Coordinate internal communication elements that allow adequate scientific exchange between the research teams involved in the project under the integrated framework based on the global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

Although under this framework has been achieved in recent years to increase awareness of the links between ecosystems and human well-being through the flow of services generated under different management models, we still need much more information to make policy instruments are more successful. We lack a robust theoretical basis that allows us to understand the relationships between ecological diversity and dynamics of ecosystems and thus their ability to generate functions or services. We need this information to know the limits and consequences of biodiversity loss and therefore the actions necessary to maintain or restore ecosystem functions.

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

This project proposes a significant change in perspective in the world of conservation in Spain since, without abandoning the intrinsic values ​​of nature (the right to exist of the species), the proposal promotes EME also instrumental values ​​(recreational value, educational, scientific or use value as food, drinking water, etc..) linking ecosystem conservation with the different dimensions of human welfare.

To break those barriers and bottlenecks in the various social, a primary objective of this project has been and continues to give the widest possible dissemination of the results obtained. Obviously this will be done in scientific forums, technical and informative that are appropriate to the proposed themes. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the project work will be disseminated in scientific publications resulting from different disciplines (Ecology, Conservation Biology, Sociology, Environmental Science).

Additional relevant information

The National Ecosystem Assessment of Spain (EME), sponsored by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, began in Spain in 2009, completed its first phase in 2012 and starts a new one up to 2013. It has been developed following the International Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000.

It is the first analysis done on the state and trends of the services of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems Spain and its contribution to the wellbeing of its inhabitants.

The research framework is intended to bring down barriers and tend bridges between social and biophysical sciences, as well as between researchers and decision-makers, to build adaptive capacities in the face of current global change. To do this, the evaluation has involved about 60 scientists from biophysical and social sciences from more than 20 universities and research centers. Under one integrated and inclusive framework has incorporated bodies of knowledge of ecology, biology, agronomy, forestry and environmental sciences, engineering, ecological economics, demographics, cultural anthropology, political science or moral philosophy. EME is organized around a coordination group, which is in constant communication with universities promoting the project and staff of the Biodiversity Foundation, which organizes both obtaining the necessary information as large team of scientists and experts from both the biophysical and social sciences and technology. In turn, the coordination group has an International Advisory Committee to ensure the scientific soundness of the results, a communication unit and Future Scenarios and Unit Geographic Information Systems, designed to convey the main results of the project to various social actors and to collect the needs and requests of these, facing their participation in the project.

Ultimately, the results presented provide interdisciplinary scientific information from the sciences of sustainability managers, enterprises, NGOs and society in general about the consequences of ecosystem change and biodiversity loss has on human wellbeing. Then, the results of the NEA in Spain are expected to help to break down barriers and build bridges between scientific knowledge and decision making interdisciplinary, empirical data to visualize the complex relationships that exist between conservation of ecosystems and human welfare of generations present and future. Also expected to serve to increase awareness of Spanish society, including the business sector on the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity in the different components of human well-being, including economic development.

In EME it is consider that the current economic model has ignored the close links between nature and society is one of the main reasons explaining the degradation of Spanish ecosystems and biodiversity. Following this argument, and after conducting the biophysical assessment of our ecosystems and biodiversity, the next step is related with analyzing in dept the economic and social value of Spanish ecosystem services. The socio-economic valuation will be conducted taking into account the use and non-use values of biodiversity, as well as a plurality in terms of valuation methods (monetary and non-monetary methods related with market prices, stated preferences techniques, and demand ranking.

The assessment tries to tackle the debate on the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity beyond the academic world and link to the wishes of a good life for all aspiring actors in society. The message send and supported by empirical data, is clear: the present and the future economic, social and cultural development of the inhabitants of Spain ecosystems is closely linked to the conservation of its ability to supply providing, regulating and cultural services which that determine the different components of their wellbeing.

In fact, one of the main results states that the 45% of the evaluated services are vulnerable or are been used in an unsustainable way, being regulating services the most affected. Also it is interesting to note that 40-68% of species are threatened.