Using Polyscape to map ecosystem services in Pontbren, Wales

Project description: 

Polyscape is a GIS toolkit designed to explore synergies and trade-offs amongst ecosystem services to support landscape management. Polyscape works at local scales with resolution appropriate for decisions considering small (10 km2) to medium (1000 km2) landscape contexts. It recognises that local data may not be available for all environments, and uses national scale digital elevation, land use/cover and soil data as a baseline. Polyscape explores the impacts of potential land cover change on: flood risk, habitat connectivity, erosion, carbon sequestration and agricultural productivity. Changes in land management can be input to Polyscape and ‘traffic light’ coded impact maps produced, allowing visualisation of the impact of different decisions. Polyscape is applied within an Upland Welsh catchment: Pontbren. Ground-truthing and the incorporation of local knowledge took place in Pontbren to ensure local engagement and ownership of the mapping process.

Organisations involved: 

Bangor University

Scale of project: 
Pontbren, Wales
Total area covered by project: 
10 (sq. km)
Special purposes of project: 
Map ecosystem services
What ecosystem service classification was used?: 

GIS tool programmed to map particular ecosystem services

Which ecosystem services were focused on?: 

  • Crops, livestock, fish
  • Carbon sequestration & storage
  • Erosion control
  • Flood control
  • Hazard regulation
Other ecosystem services included: 

Woodland habitat connectivity

Habitats mapped for ecosystem services: 
Enclosed farmland
Freshwater, wetlands and floodplains
Mountains, moors and heaths
Semi-natural grasslands
Baseline data: 
Biological monitoring data
Habitat or land cover
Land use data
Rivers data
Key outputs available: 

Participatory approaches to managing ecosystem service provision from farm woodlands 

Jackson, B., et al., 2013. Polyscape: A GIS mapping framework providing efficient and spatially explicit landscape-scale valuation of multiple ecosystem services. Landscape and Urban Planning, 112, pg 74-88, (restricted access), available at:


Contact name: 
Tim Pagella
Contact job title: 
Lecturer in Forestry
Bangor University
Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG
01248 382286