This short communication presents an ecosystem assessment framework developed within ESMERALDA; a Horizon2020-funded EU project aimed at delivering a ‘flexible methodology’ to assist towards pan-European and regional Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES).
The framework we present is closely aligned with assessment frameworks developed within the MAES (2014) and Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2010) initiatives. Mapping, fundamental to the work of MAES as well as ESMERALDA, is placed at the heart of a wider suite of activities carried out within ecosystem assessment. This enables flexibility in where and how integration takes place. Beyond the biophysical parameters at the core of the framework, emphasis is given to the inclusion of social and economic factors to ensure policy relevance.
Consultation, both internal to the ESMERALDA Consortium and external - amongst those already conducting ecosystem assessments across Europe - helped guide the development of the framework. Online consultation will provide information about the development of guidance around the framework and initiate the collation of good practice examples. The framework and accompanying guidance will contribute towards a final guidance tool due at the end of the ESMERALDA project lifetime.