BASIC LEVEL CONTENTS

The basic level is tailored for those who want to approach the concept of Ecosystem Services and its use in participatory processes of decision making in environmental management and territorial development.

Through user-friendly and easy to manage information, the learning modules provide an understanding of what ecosystem services are, and the basics of mapping and assessment of ecosystem services, thus allowing the trainee to comprehend and draw knowledge from maps and indicators.

B.1 ) What are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem services are a concept developed to support our understanding of human uses and management of natural resources. A large part of human life, included health and wellbeing, depends on services provided by the ecosystems and their components: water, soil, organisms but also landscapes and sceneries and other intangible elements present in nature which contribute to intellectual and spiritual needs.

B.2) Why are Ecosystem Services important for our society?

Ecosystem services approach allows a more integrated vision, introducing the idea that, actually, we make our interest in preserving the capacity of nature to continue to provide the services, goods and benefits we need for our life. That way we can connect any loss of biodiversity or the disruption of an ecological process, to a decrease of the wealth we receive from nature.

B.3) What is the mapping & assessment of Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem services mapping is the creation of a cartographic representation of ecosystem services in a geographic space and referring to a specific time. Mapping is a method of making the information derived from the assessment process visually accessible, especially for the inexpert users. This visual representation can be made through indicators.

B.4) How to display the Ecosystem Services assessment? Mapping Ecosystem Services

Some stakeholders with no knowledge about territorial development and environment management have to participate to a decision-making process concerning a new land planning involving a massive tourist development which will impact on traditional landscape. He/she represents a group of local dwellers who do not have the means to carry out expensive studies to demonstrate their territory’s values. These stakeholders want to know something more about ES and how to use them in the decision-making process. They need to read maps that show indicators values and to understand something more about what an indicator is. The case study will explain why ES are a powerful instrument to synthesize information about the value of a territory for its cultural characteristics and for the presence of symbolic species of plants and animals.