The “EcoServ-GIS” project, run by The Wildlife Trusts, aims to increase awareness about society’s reliance on ecosystem services and work towards the restoration and protection of the natural environment that underpins these services.
The Wildlife Trusts have developed a GIS toolkit to help identify and map the multiple benefits of the natural environment. The Toolkit has been adapted to work in a Scottish context and was funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network with initial work currently taking place in North Lanarkshire focusing on the Cumbernauld Living Landscape and the Seven Lochs Wetland Park.
Better decision making
The EcoServ-GIS Toolkit maps both the capacity of the natural environment to produce specific ecosystem services and the societal need for these services. The maps can then be overlaid to demonstrate where capacity and need coincide (‘benefiting areas’) and where they do not (‘gaps’). EcoServ-GIS helps decision makers to take an evidence-based approach by considering the multiple benefits we receive from the natural environment. The outputs can be used to measure the potential impacts of different development plans on both the demand and supply of ecosystem services within and around a proposed development, whilst the maps are also a useful visual education tool and can be used to help highlight to people the full value of ecosystems and their resulting services.
A new town case study
There is an increasing weight of evidence about the benefits that the natural environment and ‘green networks’ can provide people. Land managers, planners and decision makers are now considering how their actions influence the provision of these ‘ecosystem services’ and where they are most needed. This case study uses the EcoServ-GIS toolkit to explore the supply and demand of benefits in the new town of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.
Using the EcoServ-GIS Toolkit
The EcoServ-GIS toolkit is available for free to Wildlife Trusts and their partners. The toolkit uses ArcGIS mapping software full documentation is available on request. EcoServ-GIS requires OS MasterMap Topography data as used by local authorities and maybe access under the specifications of a subcontractor’s license agreement. It is designed to work on areas between 500 and 5,000 km2 in size and requires approximately 4 months of experienced GIS staff time to create all outputs.