Enhancing Ecosystem Services Mapping for Policy and Decision Making (ESMERALDA)

Enhancing Ecosystem Services Mapping for Policy and Decision Making (ESMERALDA)

Source of funding

European Commission

Name of client/donor

EC DG Research

Overall project value

EUR 69,163


February 2015 – June 2018

Beneficiary countries

EU member states

Number of staff


The mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services are at the core of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and are essential for informed decision making. Action 5 of the Biodiversity Strategy (Improve knowledge of ecosystems and their services in the EU) sets out the requirement for an EU-wide knowledge base that is designed to be a primary data source for developing Europe’s green infrastructure; a resource to identify areas for ecosystem restoration; and a baseline against which to evaluate the goal of “No net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services”. According to Action 5, “Member States, with the assistance of the Commission, will map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory by 2014, assess the economic value of such services, and promote the integration of these values into accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020.”

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 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. In response to the requirements of Action 5, ESMERALDA aims to deliver a flexible methodology to provide the building blocks for pan-European and regional assessments.

The work undertaken during the project will ensure the timely delivery to EU member states of a flexible methodology in relation to Action 5 for the mapping, evaluation, accounting and assessment of ecosystem services in relation to the requirements for planning, agriculture, climate, water and nature policy. This methodology will build on existing ecosystem service projects and databases (e.g. MAES, OpenNESS, OPERAs and national studies), the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). ESMERALDA will identify relevant stakeholders and take stock of their requirements at EU, national and regional levels.

The main outputs of the project are:

  • an overview of the state of ecosystem service mapping and assessment in EU member states;
  • a flexible methodology and tiered approach to ecosystem service mapping, valuation, accounting and assessment;
  • methods for developing high-quality and consistent information on the condition of ecosystems and their services;
  • exemplary applications from selected representative case studies (e.g. agriculture, forestry and marine areas);
  • 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; and
  • practical guidance, data and tools for using biodiversity and ecosystem-related data in other policies.
  • Networking
  • Assessing the current state of ES mapping and assessment
  • Method testing
  • Information acquisition
  • Event facilitation
  • Dissemination and knowledge exchange