Towards nationally harmonized mapping and quantification of ecosystem services

M.J. Paulin*, R.P. Remme, D.C.J. van der Hoek, B. de Knegt, K.R. Koopman, A.M. Breure, M. Rutgers, T. de Nijs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy requests EU Member States to map and assess ecosystem services within national territories, and to promote and integrate these values into policy-making. This calls for standardized and harmonized data, indicators, and methods to assess ecosystem services within national boundaries. Current approaches for assessing ecosystem services often oversimplify cross-scale heterogeneity, sacrificing the spatial and thematic detail required to support the needs and expectations of decision-makers at different levels. Hence, nationally harmonized models for mapping and quantifying ecosystem services are needed. This paper presents the Natural Capital Model (NC-Model), a spatially-explicit set of models for quantifying and mapping ecosystem services within the Netherlands. Its aim is to support the integration of ecosystem services within spatial planning and policy-making at the national level, contributing to the fulfilment of national and international environmental policy targets. Models introduce previously unexplored combinations of explanatory variables for modelling ecosystem functions and the socioeconomic benefits they accrue, making use of publicly-available and high-resolution spatial data. To capture spatial and thematic heterogeneity across the urban-rural gradient, the NC-Model comprises a subset of ecosystem service models tailored to the urban environment. To demonstrate the model's application, we expand on six urban ecosystem service models and implement them to quantify and map ecosystem services for Municipality of Amsterdam. High-resolution ecosystem supply and use maps provide detailed spatial information useful for supporting spatial planners and decision-makers who wish to optimize the allocation of natural elements while supporting the needs of citizens. They paint a picture on the interlinkages that exist between natural elements, ecological functions, and socioeconomic well-being in a friendly manner, tailored to various audiences with differing priorities. Their open-access nature enables their customization, supporting the sharing of knowledge and data to endorse ecosystem service modelling efforts by external parties within and outside the Netherlands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134973
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date2 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


  • Assessment tool
  • Biophysical quantification
  • Decision support
  • Socioeconomic valuation
  • Spatial model
  • Urban ecosystem services


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