Our natural environment provides us with many benefits to our economy, health and well-being. For example, urban parks can help regulate city air temperatures and reduce the likelihood of local flooding, as well as creating a space to relax, play and encounter wildlife. Accessible countryside and nature reserves provide opportunities for exploration and learning about the natural environment. To manage the landscape in a way that ensures the continued and improved provision of these “ecosystem services”, we first need to understand where they are most needed and which sites and habitats have the highest potential to deliver them.
Durham Wildlife Trust has developed a mapping toolkit to help us do this. EcoServ-GIS is a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) toolkit that generates fine scale (10 or 50 m resolution) maps illustrating the requirement for each service as well as the capacity for service provision, using scientifically-based, standardised methods and widely available datasets. It provides users with the facility to overlay these maps to show how well demand and capacity coincide in space, highlighting those natural areas providing high levels of service delivery that should be conserved, as well as those that are most in need of measures aimed at improving single or multiple service delivery. These data can be used over the range of scales at which Wildlife Trusts tend to operate, from assisting decisions on the management of reserves, informing policies, and responding to local planning applications, to aiding the development of large scale projects, such as Living Landscapes, which aim to protect, enhance and connect Britain’s wild places. The toolkit has been piloted in the Durham Biodiversity Action Plan area, northeast England. This large region (~3,000 km2) covers multiple local authorities and a wide range of habitats, providing an ideal landscape for trialling the analysis methods.
EcoServ-GIS: Stage I (2012)
Version 1 of the toolkit has now been released. Details are summarised here and in an executive summary:
- Maps ten different provisioning, regulating and cultural services, including ones that grade greenspace according to the opportunities they provide for enjoying nature and wildlife.
- Explicitly models the flow of services from the environment to people using scientifically-based, standardised methods and widely available datasets.
- Updates OS MasterMap with the best available habitat and land use information. In assisting local authorities to implement the ecosystem approach at a local scale, Wildlife Trust partnerships can access MasterMap under the specifications of a contractor’s license agreement.
- Generates fine scale (10 or 50 m resolution) ecosystem service maps and is designed to work on areas between 500 and 5,000 km2 in size
- Based on ArcGIS ModelBuilder, version 10+, an ArcInfo level license with the spatial analyst extension.
- Roughly 4 months of experienced GIS staff time are needed to create all outputs (ten services). Individual ecosystem service tools are independent of one another and can be run alone or as part of a multiple service assessment.
The toolkit and user guide are freely available to all Wildlife Trusts (Wildlife Trust staff please see the Ecosystem Services and GIS pages on WildNET). Other organisations wishing to use the toolkit for non-commercial use are asked to approach their local Trusts and local authorities to develop a joint project plan and to fill out an application form.
EcoServ-GIS: Stage II (2013 – 2014)
We are also pleased to announce that the project has received continued funding from the Dame Mary Smieton / SDF grant for further development and testing of EcoServ-GIS:
- Enhancing the toolkit’s capabilities by expanding the range of services it maps
- Increasing its flexibility so that Scottish and Welsh (and potentially Northern Irish) equivalent data can be used and maps can be produced in these countries.
- Supporting other Wildlife Trusts to use the toolkit
- Using real world situations to trial the toolkit as a decision making tool for planners, developers, local authorities and conservationists
- Testing the output with ground truth data
Stage II starts in April 2013 – please contact us if you are interested in working with the Trust on developing the toolkit, trialling its use, or testing the output.
Mapping Ecosystem Services Workshop, Sheffield 2012
The EcoServ Project and the Ecosystems Knowledge Network organised a workshop on 26 November in Sheffield on Mapping Ecosystem Services. Over 60 participants from all over the UK and from 13 different Wildlife Trusts came together for a day of talks and interactive sessions.
Click here for more information and to see the PowerPoint presentation by the EcoServ-GIS team, Chloe Bellamy & Jonathan Winn, on the EKN website.
Click here to watch the presentation on youtube.
If you would like further information about this project please contact:
Living Landscapes Coordinator