INTERMEDIATE LEVEL CONTENTS

The intermediate level is the more engaging in terms of contents because it is addressed to those who want to consolidate their theoretical knowledge of ES and to learn some ways of using it in environmental management and territorial development.

The modules of this level will range from the understanding of concepts related to ES mapping and assessment to the learning of the specific AlpES project approach.

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A.1) Ecosystem Services and their connection with biodiversity and human activity

The main topics are acquiring knowledge about the interdependencies between ecosystem services and related elements of influence, such as biodiversity and approaching the concept of economic evaluation of ecosystem services benefits.

A.2) Implementation of Ecosystem Services in governance and decision-making processes

Over the last decade, scientific literature has largely debated about the role of ecosystem services in decision-making processes concerning environment management and territorial development. There is a unanimous agreement in recognizing that ecosystem services approach can help individuals and institutions to recognize the value of nature and, consequently, to have more information to better invest in conservation, fostering at the same time human well-being.

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.

I.1 ) AlpES approach to Ecosystem Services

The Alps are considered as a mosaic of territories with specific peculiarities both natural and socio-economical. This diversity impacts directly on the number and quality of ecosystem services and on their interconnection. Moreover, the Alpine range is characterized by a rough morphology and by the administrative complexity, with many countries converging towards the watersheds.

I.2) Methods and tools for mapping and assessment

The definition of mapping and assessment is strongly dependent on the objectives and aims which underpin them and that initiate the development of the ES system. These are diverse within the project partner states, as some concepts are specifically aiming for monetary evaluation while others target the assessment of ecosystems for various reasons to be analysed.

I.3 ) Learning more about AlpES Ecosystem Services indicators

In this module it will be presented the rationale of AlpES indicators with a focus on metadata, sources, calculation. First of all, we have to explain the reasons why AlpES chose them and, afterwards, the way they are built and calculate. The aim of this article is to provide a clear insight to the most important AlpES tool for ES assessment, it will be necessary to explain the process from data source to the final algorithms, organising the text in short paragraphs referring to each step with link to external documents (e.g. list of data sources).

I.4) Instruments for Ecosystem Services implementation

When participating in or leading a governance or decision-making process, it is essential to have background information why ecosystem services are a key element in national policies and local strategies about environment management and territorial development.