The European Ecosystem Services Conference 2016

12 Oct 2016

The European Ecosystem Services Conference 2016 saw a strong representation from the Scottish Community, it also saw the launch of Oppla and the Antwerp Declaration

On behalf of the ESCom Community Dr Alistair McVitie presented in the Communities of Practice session to highlight the vibrancy and range of work carried out by ESCom members and to discuss CoP good practice with other conference participants.

Anja Liski presented her PhD work in a session on ‘Integrated assessment and valuation of ecosystem services in specific policy contexts’. This session showcased examples of local-scale ecosystem valuations that use a set of multidisciplinary methods and include a range of stakeholders. One of the case studies in the session was an OPERAs exemplar in the Inner Forth. Anja shared findings and lessons learnt for designing inclusive participatory valuation from her experience in Talking Forth workshops in Alloa. Altogether 109 local residents participated in the workshops to discuss their local landscape and environmental concerns to support local planning and policy.

Dr. Alexander van der Jagt, Forest Research attended the European ES conference in Antwerp to present his work in GREEN SURGE , a collaborative EU research project aimed at sharing knowledge and practical tools to improve the planning and governance of urban green infrastructure. The talk addressed the question if communal urban gardening (CUG) can be considered a nature-based solution with economic, social and ecological benefits. Alexander shared findings from in-depth case studies of innovative examples of CUG in six European cities, highlighting impacts such as socio-cultural integration by migrants and improved skills in team working and community self-organisation.  He also discussed success factors for CUG innovation, including supporting policies, local community food champions, community consultation and an open-minded management style. The talk was well received with a number of people expressing interest in learning more. The conference included many interesting sessions, talks and vivid discussions to learn more about the broad variety of ecosystem services research. This provided some great opportunities for networking. For example, a few of us agreed to explore the opportunity of writing an article on Communities of Practice and ecosystem services.


In the session ‘Behavioral Economics: Implications for ES valuation, management and policy design’, Darren Moseley from Forest Research presented work on behavioural economics for ecosystem service valuation and sustainability, highlighting how different cognitive factors may affect individual’s preferences for (and valuation of) different ecosystem services. The presentation also covered how ‘nudge’ theory can be applied to encourage individuals to engage with woodland creation schemes. Research report and research note are available, and a journal article has been produced.


Darren also presented ‘Agent-based modelling to support decision-making for sustainable forest management’, work that is part of a collaboration with Calum Brown from the University of Edinburgh and Forest Research colleagues Michal Petr and Stephen Bathgate. This work uses an agent-based modelling approach (CRAFTY) to represent land-use change in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs area of Scotland.


Chloe Bellamy, Forest Research presented work she has been carrying out with Forest Research colleagues to model opportunities for improving urban environments for pollinators and people, as part of the GREEN SURGE project.  She outlined the quantitative, evidence based approach they have developed for Edinburgh that links pollinator records to multi-scale environmental data derived from a range of sources, including remote sensing. Working with the Edinburgh Living Landscape they are now investigating the usefulness of the outputs for spatially targeting nature based solutions and informing green infrastructure management strategies. They are also encouraging citizen interest in wildlife gardening and environmental stewardship through a ‘Pollinator Pledge’ project and by sharing user-friendly model outputs on Ecometrica’s OurEcosystem platform.


A variety of projects from around Europe fuelled a discussion on ‘How useful is an ecosystem services approach in participatory decision making? Lessons learnt’, during the session co-hosted by James Hutton Institute and Forest Research. This included two Scottish examples, one from Louise Bond at SEPA on the‘Strathard: a landscape to live, work and play’ project and one from Jan Dick on participatory decision making in the Cairngorm National Park, as part of the Openness project


Mike Dunn (Forest Research) presented on the delivery of Forest Ecosystem Services by Britain’s Community Woodland Groups (CWGs).  A wide range of management activities and subsequent ecosystem services was elicited from a review of over 40 Community Woodland Group case studies and associated interview transcripts. These sources revealed how issues such as a lack of capacity and unstable funding streams limit the potential of CWGs to manage their sites, to the detriment of ecosystem service provision. It was suggested that the emergence of new ecosystem service tools could assist CWGs in thinking more holistically about their sites and in demonstrating the value of their work to policymakers and funders. Further research examining how networks and advisory services influence and assist CWGs’ pursuit of Forest Ecosystem Services is now underway.   

Aster de Vries Lentsch, University of Edinburgh

The OPERAs project STREAMLINE received a lot of positive feedback at the Antwerp Conference. In between work for the Antwerp Declaration, Aster de Vries Lentsch presented her new interview format developed in the Scotland exemplar and initial results during two poster sessions of the event and was also represented at the Oppla street. Not only was there great feedback from people attending the sessions, she also won the award for Best Poster Presentation in the Conference! 


Watch the ESP Conference summary video here

Find out who else from the ESCom community took part here

All the presentations from the European Ecosystem Services Conference are now online here