Ecosystem services calculator
AERU have undertaken several
projects that have sought to assess, calculate and quantify the
ecosystem services that are delivered by different components in
agricultural landscapes. This includes work to calculate the benefits
provided by Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) and semi-natural habitats.
The projects have synthesised the current knowledge on the impacts on
ecosystem services and biodiversity by different features and land uses
and the development of software tools for assessing and calculating
ecosystem services, including the EFA Calculator and QuESSA. This work
has been undertaken in three related projects which are outlined below.
The work is also feeding into the ongoing FRAMEwork project.
2017 to 2019: EFA
calculator maintenance and development (Ref. Ares(2017)1119080 -
In 2015 the Joint Research Centre (JRC)
commissioned AERU to develop the Ecological Focus Areas (EFA)
Calculator software, which calculates the potential impact on ecosystem
services and biodiversity of different EFAs on a farm. During 2016 it
was used by the JRC to make an assessment of potential impacts of EFA
implementation at a regional level, and at the end-2016 to early 2017
the software was further developed to integrate the outputs of the
Quantification of Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Agriculture
(QuESSA) project. Given the successful development and level of
utilisation to date, the JRC has commissioned AERU to undertake a
maintenance and development contract. The aim of the contract is to
ensure that the EFA calculator is kept up to date and to improve the
tool to better meet the requirements of the JRC. The work will involve
updating the core database with the most current information on EFA
elements and their eligibility in the EU-28, updating the impact
assessment data with new knowledge on the impact of EFAs on ecosystem
services and biodiversity, enhancing data export/import routines, and
other general maintenance of the software, including ensuring it is
free from bugs and errors. New versions of the EFA Calculator software
will be released throughout 2017 and 2018, as and when updates are
2016 to 2017: QuESSA:
Quantification of Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Agriculture (Ref.
EU 7th Framework Programme: No 311879)
The work carried out for this project built on
that done in 2015 to develop a software application for the European
Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) known as the Ecological Focus
Areas (EFA) Calculator, and was undertaken by AERU in collaboration
with the team responsible for the QuESSA (Quantification of Ecosystem
Services for Sustainable Agriculture) project. This latter project was
intended to quantify the contribution of key semi-natural habitats in
providing essential ecological services across a range of economically
important cropping systems, farming intensities and four European
agro-climatic zones, and one aim of the project was to develop a tool
to deliver the outputs from the project on farms. Consequently there
was a clear overlap between the outputs of the QuESSA project and the
tool already developed by AERU for the Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs)
Calculator, such that it made sense to utilise the EFA Calculator as a
delivery vehicle for the QuESSA outputs. This project explored,
developed and implemented options to achieve this, and adapted the
existing EFA Calculator to include the QuESSA outputs, resulting in a
single consistent tool. The aim of the project was to provide a
software tool that delivers the outputs from the QuESSA project on
farms in a format that would facilitate the enhancement and
exploitation of semi-natural habitats for their ecosystem services
2014 to 2015: Guidance &
tool to support farmers in taking aware decisions on Ecological Focus
Areas (awareEFA) (Ref. JRC/IPR/2014/H.4/0022/NC)
Farming has a central role to play in the delivery
of a number of desirable 'ecosystem services' (also known as
'ecological goods and services'), including those related to rural
biodiversity. However, despite the fact that that there has been
significant emphasis placed on biodiversity in agri-environmental
policy over the years, it is generally accepted that there is still
some way to go if the industry is to deliver what is expected of it in
this regards. Most notably for example, populations of farmland birds
and mammals have declined across the EU over recent decades.
It is hoped that the introduction of 'Ecological
Focus Areas' on the farm will aid in delivering tangible environmental
improvements, but this is to some extent dependent on the specific
combination of EFA elements a farmer selects, and its appropriateness
to the local environment. Consequently, JRC wished to develop a tool
which would help farmers select EFA elements that could deliver optimal
environmental benefits. The developed tool accounts for the farms site
specific characteristics and ensures that both the EFA solution
overall, and the specific EFA elements selected, are pragmatic in terms
of management and control.
AERU were contracted to develop this tool on the
basis of the latest scientific understanding of the relevant issues.
The project ran for nine months from January 2015 and resulted in a
user-friendly system that allows farmers to consider complex
environmental issues within their decision-making processes, without
the need for in-depth scientific knowledge.
- Mondière, A., Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D.J., van der Werf, H.M.G., Farruggia, A., Glinec, O. & Corson, M.S (2022). An improved indicator framework to assess and optimise ecosystem services provided by permanent grasslands. Ecological Indicators, 146, 109765. DOI.
- Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D.J. & Holland, J.M. (2019). Developing practical techniques for quantitative assessment of ecosystem services on farmland. Ecological Indicators, 106: 105514. DOI
- Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D., Green, A. & Lewis, K. (2019). Spatial analysis of the benefits and burdens of Ecological Focus Areas for water-related ecosystem services vulnerable to climate change in Europe. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change, 24(2): 205-233. DOI
- Warner, D., Tzilivakis, J., Green, A. & Lewis, K. (2017). Ecological Focus Areas and beneficial insect (Coleoptera: Carabidae) conservation for pest control: habitat suitability and farm specific factors. In: G. Begg, F. Bianchi, N. Birch, B. Gerowitt, J. Holland, D. Lupi, C. Moonen, M. Ramsden & P. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th IOBC-WPRS Working Group meeting on Landscape Management for Functional Biodiversity (IOBC-WPRS Bulletin vol. 122). Dundee (Scotland, UK), 29-31 March, 6-10.
- Tzilivakis, J. & Warner, D. (2017). Adapting the EFA Calculator software to integrate the outputs from the QuESSA project. Report for EU 7th Framework Programme Project No 311879.
- Angileri, V., Fasbender, D., Van Eupen, C., Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D., Devos, W., Loudjani, P., Paracchini, M-L. & Terres, J-M. (2017). Using the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) calculator to assess the potential impact of EFA implementation on biodiversity and ecosystem services. European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) Technical Report. DOI: 10.2788/20041.
- Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D.J., Green, A., Lewis, K.A. & Angileri, V. (2016). An indicator framework to help maximise potential benefits for ecosystem services and biodiversity from ecological focus areas. Ecological Indicators, 69: 859-872. DOI
- Warner, D., Tzilivakis, J., Green, A. & Lewis, K.A. (2016). A guidance tool to support farmers with ecological focus areas – the benefits of agroforestry for ecosystem services and biodiversity. 3rd European Agroforestry Conference, Montpellier, France.
- Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D.J., Green, A. & Lewis, K.A. (2015). Guidance and tool to support farmers in taking aware decisions on Ecological Focus Areas. Final report for project RC/IPR/2014/H.4/0022/NC, Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission.
- Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D., Green, A. & Lewis, K.A. (2015). Adapting to climate change: Assessing the vulnerability of ecosystem services in Europe in the context of rural development. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 20(4): 547-572. DOI