Mapping ecosystem functions and services in Eastern Europe using global-scale data sets

21-02-2012 | Publication

To assess future interactions between the environment and human well-being, spatially explicit ecosystem service models are needed. Currently available models mainly focus on provisioning services and do not distinguish changes in the functioning of the ecosystem (Ecosystem Functions – ESFs) and human use of such functions (Ecosystem Services – ESSs). This limits the insight on the impact of global change on human well-being. We present a set of models for assessing ESFs and ESSs.

We mapped a diverse set of provisioning, regulating and cultural services, focusing on services that depend on the landscape structure. Services were mapped using global-scale data sets. We evaluated the models for a sample area comprising Eastern Europe. ESFs are mainly available in natural areas, while hotspots of ESS supply are found in areas with heterogeneous land cover. Here, natural land cover where ESFs are available is mixed with areas where the ESSs are utilized. We conclude that spatial patterns of several ESFs and ESSs can be mapped at global scale using existing global-scale data sets. As land-cover change has different impacts on different aspects of the interaction between humans and the environment, it is essential to clearly distinguish between ESFs and ESSs in integrated assessment studies.