An emerging, collaborative project in the Strathard area of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park aims to develop sustainable and resilient land and water management plans using an ecosystems approach. Christine Ratcliffe from Forest Research describes how the project partners are going about measuring and mapping ecosystem services.
Measuring and monitoring the condition of ecosystems and the services they provide is a key element of the ecosystems approach. However, many studies use different classifications of ecosystems and their services, making it difficult to apply methods and transfer findings to other areas. One step towards solving this problem has been the creation and use of standardised frameworks, as suggested by Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). The Strathard project is using two such standardised frameworks in an attempt to create outputs that are clear and transferable: the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) and EUropean Nature Information System (EUNIS) habitat classification. However, using the frameworks does not eliminate the complexity of the assessment. There are 48 different classes of CICES services and many hundreds of different EUNIS habitat types.
The approach we’re taking for the Strathard project is to combine a ‘broad and shallow’ approach mapping many ecosystem services with more detailed assessments of selected services. One example of this is our assessment of cultural services. We have designed a survey to collect data on what the local community value about different broad EUNIS habitats for all 12 CICES cultural services. The information will be used in conjunction with results from Map-Me, a web based PPGIS tool developed at Lancaster University that takes a more focused approach to ecosystem services by acknowledging the importance of place rather than space. The information gathered from the communities and stakeholders will be integrated with outputs from more detailed modelling of selected ecosystem services, using methods developed by Forest Research’s Land Use and Ecosystem Services and Changing Physical Environment Science Groups. The results will be used to evaluate and compare the effects of different land and water management options. By considering the wider impacts and benefits of these actions, improved management decisions can be made which address the needs of the local communities whilst promoting sustainable use of the land.
The hope is that by using a common language and transferrable methods, this approach can be used to better understand and manage other landscapes in Scotland and further afield.
Do you live, work or play in Strathard? Have your say!
Come along to the project launch, 27th February 2016, Kinlochard Village Hall POSTER
Tell us about what how you value different habitats in Strathard using this survey and interactive map:
Fill out this survey if you live or work in Strathard
Fill out this survey if you visit Strathard
SEPA initiated this project following a request from the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment (RAFE) Delivery Board to improve joint working between public bodies. Partnership agencies co-funding this project include Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Forest Enterprise Scotland, Stirling Council, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA), The Community Partnership and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).