Best practices for measuring the costs and benefits of ecosystem services from land use were the focus of the first thematic workshop of the European project PROGRESS, held online due to the global context of coronavirus.
Partners shared success stories with the aim of sharing tools and real results, aimed at preventing the loss of natural habitats and transferring them to policy makers. The provision of ecosystem services depends on the maintenance of biodiversity and the way ecosystems work, ranging from pollination and climate regulation through forest cover to nutrient cycling. They are essential to the health, economy and quality of life of a society and therefore were the focus of the discussion among representatives from various countries.
PROGRESS Coordinator Besnik Mehmeti of the Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani Toscana stressed that “now more than ever we need to improve our knowledge of ecosystem services”. She referred to the unsustainable exploitation of natural habitats by humans, which causes the emergence and spread of diseases, a fact already referred to by UNEP and many scientists.
Enrique Doblas, CREAF researcher representative of Catalonia in the project, pointed out during the selection of local proposals that “PROGRESS offers a unique opportunity to export our most successful experiences to the rest of Europe, as well as to share and enhance knowledge”. The previous meeting was attended by members of the Provincial Council and Barcelona City Council, CREAF researchers from CREAF, ICTA-UAB and IRTA, as well as representatives from the Xarxa de Custòdia del Territori.
Good practices in Europe
One of the examples selected at local level and shared at the Europe-wide meeting was the system of territorial analysis SITxell, territorial analysis system, an open access and multidisciplinary tool, which supports planning and decision-making processes on territorial planning and is developed by the Barcelona Provincial Council. It was presented by Carles Castell –head of the Barcelona Provincial Council’s Territorial Planning and Analysis Office–, who explained how this resource has been applied to various stages in the development of the Barcelona Metropolitan Plan, and pointed out that “70.4% of the region’s area is of special protection due to its natural and agricultural interest”.
Among others, the results of the Italian SOS4LIFE project were also shared , presented by Fabrizio Ungaro –fromthe Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche– and focused on much-needed and often neglected soil ecosystem services; the successful All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, which brought together an impressive number of committed stakeholders; the LIFE EcosystemServices project, which considers an economic assessment of services as well as possible scenarios to compare the consequences of different decisions, as well as the exemplary collaboration shown by the joint Romanian-Bulgarian transboundary assessment of natural and technological hazards in the Danube floodplain.