MAES Soil pilot: the goals are clear

In June the finishing touch was applied in Gent to a policy brief about the soil pilot in the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) project. The pilot was intended to produce a clear definition and mapping of soil-related ecosystem services and in policy instruments to improve the management of soil ecosystem services.

The MAES working group is implementing action item 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy which is to improve knowledge of ecosystems and ecosystem services in the EU. Besides the soil pilot, the MAES umbrella also covers the urban pilot (see elsewhere in this newsletter).

The MAES soil workshop was hosted by the Flemish Land Agency [Vlaamse Landmaatschappij] (VLM).

MAES soil pilot workshop

The workshop in Ghent on 2 and 3 June 2016 was attended by scientists, politicians and policymakers from various EU countries. Some of the issues the presentations on the first day focused on included related EU research projects such as RECARE (finding and sharing solutions for soil degradation on the basis of 17 case studies), LANDMARK (What demands do we place on the soil? – mapping soil functions in relation to soil type and land use), and INSPIRATION (research on integrated spatial planning, land use and soil management). The second day was devoted to the knowledge base at EU and national level to support Ecosystem Services  assessment and  to the  integration of an ecosystem-based approach in policymaking.

Role of Dutch Atlas of Natural Capital (ANK)

The Dutch Atlas of Natural Capital is a digital platform which aims to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services, to assess the economic value of such services, and to promote the integration into accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020.

The platform currently provides a number of maps of the current state of (Dutch) natural capital, as well as news, events information and download data on natural capital. Soil maps in de Atlas show, for example, the moisture-controlling capacity, soil fertility or erodibility. The Atlas of Natural Capital team collaborates with several Dutch authorities and knowledge organisations in collecting data and the further development of natural capital models. In the future the Atlas will support decision-making in sustainable spatial planning, for example by incorporating these models (such as the TEEB City Tool to valuate urban ecosystem services).