In the past 20 years, work on ecosystem services has focused primarily on recognizing the multiple types of services that exist, in trying to quantify their temporal and spatial variations, and recognizing the numerous trade-offs that emerge when considering more than one service. More recently, however, in addition to these perspectives we are acknowledging that ecosystem services are often the result of complex and intertwined co-production between natural and human systems which shift – not only across space and time – but also across social dimensions such as demography, culture, and institutions. Understanding these additional components of socio-ecological systems as they relate to ecosystems services will be fundamental for developing appropriate policy and practices that can ensure their sustainable use and long-term supply.

About Ecosystem Services WG

A. Sofia Vaz
CIBIO-University of Porto
Nuria Piston
Universidad de Granada
Key objectives
  1. To foster the development of a scalable observation system of ecosystem services that can operate from sub-national to global levels, that takes into account the socio-ecological systems in which ecosystem services are generated and appropriated
  2. To identify the essential ecosystem service variables for effective observation of ecosystem services status and trends, including their supply, use, value and contributions to well-being
  3. To conduct and facilitate trend assessments and monitoring of ecosystem services at different spatial scales, including the exploration trade-offs between ecosystem services and across temporal and spatial scales
  4. To work closely with national, regional and global decision makers to identify priority exploration, synthesis, and outputs that the WG can deliver
  5. To inform on progress towards Sustainable Development Targets, and other global and regional environmental policy targets taking into account essential ecosystem service variables
  6. To contribute to important policy-science processes such as IPBES and to the appropriate conventions
1. Essential Ecosystem Services Variables
Leads Patty Balvanera
Team Tuyeni Mwampamba, Berta Martin-Lopez, Mike Gill , Anna Cord, Matthias Schröter, HyeJin Kim, Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio, Danny Karp, Domingo Alcaraz-Segura, Carlos Guerra, Vânia Proença, Guy Ziv, Alessandro Gimona Nicolas, Artur Gil, Bruno Locatelli, María Vallejos, Antonio J. Castro, Valia Drakou, Kate Brauman, Elena Bennett, Cornelia Krug, Cristina Domingo.
Development approach Concepts, Monitoring
Description This activity aims at developing a conceptual paper of a first draft of Essential Ecosystem Services Variables similar to the initial proposition of the EBVs as a starting point for improvements and harmonization efforts across national and international assessments.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Discuss and finalise framework; Submission of the manuscript Publication of a scientific article
Link with other WG, BONs, TF ES2.7. Trade-offs among ecosystem services; ES3.2. Test EESV at national & sub-national level EBV Framework Task Force
2. Relational Values
Leads Antonio J. Castro & Odirilwe Selomane
Team Berta Martín-López, Tuyeni Mwampamba, Patricia Balvanera
Development Approach Concepts, Monitoring
Description Relational values have been little explored in the ecosystem services literature and they present unique challenges in terms of monitoring and reporting. This activity will explore the implications of including relational values in assessments ecosystem services, the opportunities and challenges that
exist for monitoring relational values.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
Link with other activities
3. Ecosystem Services and remote sensing
Lead Anna Cord & Maria Vallejos
Team Guy Ziv, Ralf Seppelt, Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Kate Brauman, Andreas Huth, Matthias Schröter, Karla Locher, Domingo Alcaraz-Segura, Valia Drakou, Ana Stritih, Maria Vallejos, Daniela Braun, Petteri Vihervaara, Alessandro Gimona,Artur Gil (in islands), Ivette Serral, María Vallejos, Elena Bennett, Cristina Domingo
Development Approach Monitoring, Data Mobilisation, Modelling, Application and Tools
Description This activity aims at outlining the challenges and opportunities for assessing and monitoring ecosystem services using remote sensing. Managing ecosystem services in the context of global sustainability policies requires reliable monitoring mechanisms, and satellite Earth observation offers great promise to support this need. Significant challenges, however, remain in quantifying connections between ecosystem functions, the concomitant ecosystem services they underpin and human wellbeing benefits. The aim of this activity is to synthesize in which respect Earth observation together with socio-economic information and model-based analysis can support assessments and monitoring of ecosystem service supply, demand and benefit, and illustrate this for selected services. We argue that the full potential of satellite Earth observation is not yet realized in ecosystem service studies. To provide guidance for priority setting and to spur research in this area, we propose five priorities to advance the capabilities of Earth observation-based monitoring of ecosystem services in the future.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Cord, A.F., Brauman, K.A., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Huth, A., Ziv, G., Seppelt, R. (2017). Priorities to advance monitoring of ecosystem services using Earth observation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 32(6), 416-428.
Resources PhD grant funded through iDiv Flexpool.
Link with other activities Remote Sensing Task Force BON Development Working Group (BD3).
4. Metadata and data standards for ES
Lead Valia Drakou
Development Approach Monitoring, Data mobilization
Description Ecosystem Service assessment, mapping and quantification takes place in different spatio-temporal scales, socio-political context and for different policy objectives, which leads to an immense variety of approaches, methods, tools, modelling and mapping outputs. This group acknowledges the significance of maintaining this diversity, but also the need to bring these different approaches together, in order to facilitate data and information sharing for ecosystem services. The aim of this activity is to propose a set of data standards that can be used for monitoring ecosystem services. Until now, the need for setting up data standards for ecosystem services has been expressed among researchers, but such an attempt hasn’t been made yet. The group will work together on three major objectives:
i) making an overview of existing data standards and ontologies that can be used for ecosystem service
ii) identifying the gaps and proposing a set of data standards for ecosystem services (linked initially
with EESVs);
iii) validate those data standards before their final establishment as an ontology.
The final output of this work, will be used to bring together in a systematic way the work done within Bon-in-a-Box (activity 3.1), but also to facilitate the process of data collection through remote sensing within the GEOBON community. After the test phase, the goal is to promote the use of those data standards to the global ES research community.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Overview of data standards and ontologies for RS & link with ES classification systems: Data standard overview ES classification systems overview Synthesis and proposal of data standards with existing ontological systems: Submission of proposed ontology
Use/Testing/Validation of data standards by the rest of the Working Group
Publication of proposed data standards promote the use of those data standards to the global ES research community
Link with other activities ES1.1 Essential Ecosystem Services Variables; ES3.1. BON-in-a-Box for ecosystem services; ES3.2. Test EESV at national and sub-national level
This activity will also be supported by the EBV Data Task Force.
5. Cultural Ecosystem Services
Lead Arjan & Guy Ziv
Team Anna Cord, Matthias Schröter, Jan, Roland Krämer, Artur Gil, Bruno Locatelli, Kai Chan, Valia Drakou, Philipp Schaegner
Development Approach Concepts, Monitoring
Description Challenges and opportunities for monitoring cultural ecosystem services using remote sensing or other global datasets (e.g. social media big data). Cultural ecosystem services are linked to widely recognized benefits people gain from nature, yet has been traditionally under-studied because they are intangible and perceptions on them are highly subjective, leading to difficulties in working with public, stakeholders and experts to quantify these. Given the need for more standard, regional- or global-scale monitoring of Ecosystem Services in general – there is clear need to develop science and tools to harness remote sensing and geolocated social media “big data” to cultural ecosystem services. This activity will produce one or two review / agenda-setting peer-reviewed publications on the topic.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Conceptual framing: Development of a skeleton structure for literature review
Literature review on CES and EO: Manuscript submission to Ecosystem Services journal or similar
Literature review on CES and Social Media/Participatory Science: Manuscript submission to Ecosystem Services journal or similar
Link with other activities Remote Sensing TF
6. Social Ecological Indicators and IPBES
Lead Odirilwe Selomane
Team Tuyeni Mwampamba, Berta Martin-Lopez, Ilse Geijzendorfer, Domingo Alcaraz-Segura, María Vallejos, Carlos, Artur Gil, Antonio J. Castro, Vânia Proença, Cornelia Krug, HyeJin Kim
Development Approach Application and tools
Description Regional and global assessment of the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services that are currently underway have been led by silo approaches that fail to expose the complex interactions between social and ecological processes that contribute to those trends. Working closely with the IPBES Knowledge TSU, this effort consists of identifying those indicators that help complete our understanding of how other factors such as institutions, governance, values and preferences determine current status and future projections. The final expected outcomes are a set of key indicators that assessments will use to facilitate development of narratives that give a more complete assessment of where we are, why, future projections and the social-political contexts that have led to current status and which could contribute to future sustainable pathways.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • Complete list of key SE indicators approved by IPBES executive board
  • authors of global assessments applying indicators to their work
  • Assessment of extent of use of the indicators and insights they provide
  • survey of global assessment authors for experience with their application
Development of manuscript of the indicators and experiences with their application
Link with other activities ES1.2. Dialogue with policy bodies; ES2.8. Social ecological dynamics and ecosystem services. This activity will also be supported by the Policy TF and contribute to the EBV Framework TF.
7. Trade-offs across scales among ecosystem services
Lead Ilse Geijzendorffer
Team Anna Cord, Artur Gil (in islands), Bruno Locatelli, Daniel Karp, Antonio J. Castro, Guy Ziv, Elena Bennett, Alessandro Gimona
Development Approach Concepts, Monitoring, Application and tools
Description Monitoring tradeoffs of ecosystem services through space and time. Assessments of changes in ecosystems need to account for the ability of ecosystems to supply and deliver services to societies but also on tradeoffs and synergies among services. Yet, little is known about how services are related to each other and which services can be delivered in the same spatial areas. Moving observation systems beyond single services to the full bundle of services (a set of services that tend to co-occur in space or time), to quantify and reflect the synergies (positive interactions) and trade-offs (negative interactions) is a major challenge for current research efforts. Also, an understanding of the interactions among stakeholders that have differential preferences for the traded-off services is needed. This activity will explore conceptual approaches and analytic methods for assessing how trade-offs among ecosystem services change through space and time resulting from biophysical and societal changes.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Conceptual approach: Develop outline of conceptual approach to accounting for tradeoffs/synergies at different scales
Analytic paper: Reexamine draft of previously developed paper on this topic and reframe to match conceptual outline above
Conceptual approach: Development of conceptual paper
Analytic paper: Development of analytic paper comparing tradeoffs and synergies across case studies
Link with other activities
8. Monitoring of ecosystem services in Global Policies
Leads Odirilwe Selomane & Ilse Geijzendorffer
Team Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham, Anna Cord, Wolfgang Cramer, Carlos Guerra, Berta Martín-López, Kai Chan. Partners: TdV, IUCN, UFZ, IMBE, iDIV and Leuphana University
Development Approach Application and tools
Description This activity aims at linking ecosystem services with Aichi targets and SDGs and explore how indicators can help to monitor policy goals. EESVs should be relevant for decisions makers and could be used to identify highlight knowledge gaps that create biases in how political reports and decisions are informed. To generate a first estimation of this knowledge gap for the EEVs related to ES flows, we determined 1) which services are currently being mentioned in SDGs and Aichi targets; 2) which EESV flow variables are currently being demanded for reporting on global policy targets on sustainability; 3) which of these knowledge demands is already being provided upon in national ecosystem assessments.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Geijzendorffer, IR, Cohen-Shacham, E., Cord, A., Cramer, W., Guerra, C., Martín-López, B. 2017. Ecosystem Services in Global Sustainability Policies. Environmental Science and Policy 74:40-48
Link with other activities ES1.2. Dialogue with policy bodies Policy Task Force
9. From data to indicators: testing examples of ecosystem services using data from other GEO BON working groups
Data Products
Documents & Publications

Hölting L, Jacobs S, Felipe-Lucia Maria R, Maes J, Norström Albert V, Plieninger T, and Cord Anna F. 2019. “Measuring ecosystem multifunctionality across scales”. 14 (12). |

Geijzendorffer, Ilse R., Coralie Beltrame, Laurent Chazee, Elie Gaget, Thomas Galewski, Anis Guelmami, Christian Perennou, et al. 2019. “A More Effective Ramsar Convention for the Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands”. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7. Download as PDF |

Haase, Peter, Jonathan D. Tonkin, Stefan Stoll, Benjamin Burkhard, Mark Frenzel, Ilse R. Geijzendorffer, Christoph Häuser, et al. 2018. “The next generation of site-based long-term ecological monitoring: Linking essential biodiversity variables and ecosystem integrity”. Science of the Total Environment. 613-614: 1376-1384. Email me a PDF

Geijzendorffer I.R., van Teeffelen A.J., Allison H., Braun D., Horgan K., Iturrate-Garcia M., et al. 2017. “How can global conventions for biodiversity and ecosystem services guide local conservation actions?” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 29: 145-150. Email me a PDF |

Geijzendorffer Ilse R., Cohen-Shacham Emmanuelle, Cord Anna F., Cramer Wolfgang, Guerra Carlos, Martín-López Berta. 2017. “Ecosystem services in global sustainability policies”. Environmental Science and Policy. 74: 40-48. Email me a PDF

Brummitt, Neil, Eugenie C. Regan, Lauren V. Weatherdon, Corinne S. Martin, Ilse R. Geijzendorffer, Duccio Rocchini, Yoni Gavish, Peter Haase, Charles J. Marsh, and Dirk S. Schmeller. 2017. “Taking stock of nature: Essential biodiversity variables explained”. Biological Conservation. 213: 252-255. Email me a PDF