Making the most out of ecosystem services assessments for conservation practice

Organized by: Eszter Tanács, András Báldi, Centre for Ecological Research, Institute of Ecology and Botany; Thomas Hein, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Nature conservation started at species and area focused protection, then stepped further to integrate conservation into the whole landscape. However, despite successes concerning certain species or areas, the general decline of biodiversity in Europe has not stopped, instead accelerated. The ecosystem services (ES) framework is a more recent approach based on the assumption that linking conservation efforts to human well-being will broaden the public’s understanding of the aims and necessity of preserving nature. It is also expected to be more suitable for integrating the already existing economic accounting structures and decision making. ES assessments have already been tested in countless countries and regions at different scales. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 required EU member states to map and assess their ES. These assessments provide valuable information on the ecosystems and their values, including their extent and condition as well as the range of functions and services they provide to society. Yet planning and conservation-related legislation are still mostly species- and/or area-based, as is conservation practice. Given the current severe biodiversity crisis, it is essential to bring ecosystem mapping and assessment knowledge to the hands of managers and provide keys on how to apply this knowledge in practice. This symposium aims to overview factors that affect how the ES framework can work for conservation practice.

Presentations

The effects of river floodplain restoration on ecosystem services
- Thomas Hein (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria)

Ecosystem service valuation as argument for wetland restoration
- Irene Lucius (WWF-Central and Eastern Europe, Austria)

Differences in assessment of relative importance of certain ecosystem services amongst stakeholders linked with a Central Hungarian forest
- Csaba Vadász (Kiskunság National Park Directorate, Hungary)