EEA maps out spaces that deliver ‘ecosystem services’

The European Environment Agency (EEA) is proposing a new method for mapping 'green infrastructure' that fulfils "important yet unseen functions" such as preventing floods or filtering air.

In a new report by the EEA, ‘Spatial analysis of green infrastructure in Europe’, the agency maps a network of natural and semi-natural spaces and other environmental features in Europe with a good capacity to deliver ‘ecosystem services’.

These include air filtration, erosion protection, regulating water flow, coastal protection, pollination, maintaining soil structure, water purification, and carbon storage.

The report also identifies key habitats for large forest-dwelling mammals and the analysis of connectivity among them.

According to the report, this experimental methodology, applicable at different scales, indicates that healthy areas of green infrastructure cover approximately a quarter of Europe’s land.

Mapping data has been a point of focus recently, with the European Commission’s plans to provide “free, full and open access” to satellite data that develops environmental understanding.

Data gathered by Copernicus, Europe’s Earth observation system, is currently very expensive to obtain but the EEA has said that by providing free access to this data businesses, researchers, citizens and policy makers will be able to integrate greater environmental knowledge into “everything they do”.

Leigh Stringer

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