There is increasing interest in producing maps that portray the ‘services’ that the natural environment provides for people, rather than simply mapping features in the environment or measures of environmental quality. In association with Oxfordshire's Nature partnership, the Ecosystems Knowledge Network organised a workshop to help local authority staff learn about how ecosystem service maps can help inform decisions about how services are funded and delivered. The event took place in Oxford on 29 April 2013. It involved 75 local government officers and representatives of the delivery partners of local authorities. Poul Christensen CBE, the then Chair of Natural England opened the workshop, highlighting the importance of communicating the value of nature's services to those outside the traditional 'environment' professions. The event formed part of the mapping ecosystem services theme of the Ecosystems Knowledge Network. It was preceded by a workshop on mapping ecosystem services held in Sheffield in November 2012.
A summary report on the event, describing the main learning points, is available for download.
Morning session: programme and presentations
The morning session set the scene with an overview of what is involved in ecosystem service mapping, followed by presentations by representatives of three local authorities that have already found applications for maps of nature's services.
- Putting natures services on the map: what, why and how. Katie Medcalf, Environment Director, Environment Systems Ltd.
- Mapping ecosystem services for Birmingham City. Nick Grayson, Climate Change and Sustainability Manager at Birmingham City Council.
- Using maps of nature’s services to inform the planning process. Jonathan Lane, Senior Planning Officer at Bridgend County Borough Council and Geoff Hobbs, County Borough Ecologist at Bridgend County Borough Council.
- Ecosystem service mapping for major infrastructure. Mai Nielsen, Ecologist, Buckinghamshire County Council.
Short profiles of the speakers are available.
Links to initiatives, reports and on-line resources mentioned during the day
- With funding from Natural England, the NERC BESS Programme has developed an on-line gateway to ecosystem service mapping projects across England.
- The MAGIC website provides authoritative geographic information about the natural environment from across government.
- Natural England's ongoing work to revise profiles for National Character Areas (revised profiles include assessments of key ecosystem services).
- Birmingham City Council's Green Commission.
- A report outlining the project to map ecosystem services in Bridgend (September 2012) produced by Natural Resources Wales and Environment Systems.
- The Mersey Forest's work on green infrastructure planning (see presentation by Tom Butlin during the seminar on getting the data for ecosystem service maps). The Mersey Forest's mapping method is explained in The Value of Mapping Green Infrastructure and there is also a draft Mersey Forest Plan available, which was put out to public consultation.
- EcoServ-GIS Project of Durham Wildlife Trust (see presentation by Jonathan Winn during the seminar on getting the data for ecosystem service maps).
- New South Wales (Australia) Soil and Land Information System (cited as an example of a useful data portal), also the New South Wales Natural Resource Atlas and the Community Access to Natural Resource Information (CANRI) web site has GIS compatible downloads.
- Natural England's resources to help demonstrate the health benefits of access to the natural outdoors.
For other relevant links, see the mapping ecosystem services learning theme page.
The afternoon consisted of four seminars that addressed different aspects of mapping nature's services at the local level.
Other related Network activities
- A workshop in Barnstaple in July 2012 on an ecosystems approach and spatial planning.
- A workshop in Sheffield in November 2012 on mapping ecosystem services.
- Demonstrating the links between spatial planning and an ecosystems approach.