This paper was originally published in One Ecosystem

Abstract: Ecosystem services (ES) mapping is becoming mainstream in many sustainability assessments, but its impact on real world decision-making is still limited. Robustness, end-user relevance and transparency have been identified as key attributes needed for effective ES mapping. However, these requirements are not always met due to multiple challenges, referred to here as bottlenecks, that scientists, practitioners, policy makers and users from other public and private sectors encounter along the mapping process.

Mapping has become one of the most prolific fields within ecosystem service (ES) science (Crossman et al. 2013Klein et al. 2016). Robustness, end-user relevance and transparency have been identified as key requirements of ES maps (Willemen et al. 2015b). However, ES maps and mapping processes often fall short in meeting these requirements, limiting the impact of ES science (Root-Bernstein and Jaksic 2017). ES mapping is a complex process that presents several challenges ranging from data availability aspects to integration of mapping outputs in decision-making (Burkhard and Maes 2017). These challenges, referred to here as bottlenecks, need to be solved to leverage the impact of ES mapping and in consequence, the implementation of the ES science in decision-making as a whole.

ES mapping has received much attention because it provides a clear link between ES and spatial planning (Albert et al. 2016). This attention in research and practice is expected to increase, given, for example, the explicit demand from the EU Biodiversity Strategy to Member States to evaluate and map ES (Target 2 – Action 5) (Maes et al. 2016) and the upcoming environmental accounting (e.g. SEEA EEA). Given the increased importance of ES mapping, the aim of this paper is to present the most widespread ES mapping challenges and potential solutions. Specific objectives are: (i) to provide an overview of the most widespread bottlenecks in ES mapping; and (ii) to point to possible solutions for map-makers and map-users that have been successfully implemented. This can help ES mappers and map-users to find ways around challenges and to improve the utility of ES maps for sustainable decision-making…”

Read on and access the full paper at: One Ecosystem.