Mapping and assessment of Europe's ecosystems and their services

The Institute for Natural Resource Conservation at Kiel University is coordinating the ESMERALDA project. Photo: Christian Urban, Uni Kiel

Around 70 representatives of 25 partner organisations from 20 European countries are currently meeting at Kiel University (CAU) for the start of the EU-wide Horizon 2020 cooperation project “ESMERALDA – Enhancing ecosystem services mapping for policy and decision making”. The meeting, which runs until Thursday 7 May, is the kick-off for the three-and-a-half-year joint project, which aims to achieve European mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services to society (“Ecosystem Services” or ES). The participating states hope to develop methods, build knowledge bases and develop baselines for finalising the new EU Biodiversity (BD) Strategy 2020. “The ESMERALDA project is essential for future Europe-wide cooperation in biodiversity protection and for the consideration of environmental interests during political planning. That we are able to coordinate and operate it at Kiel University is a big responsibility, but also a great success,” said CAU Vice President Professor Karin Schwarz.

The ESMERALDA project should thereby serve as an important basis for implementing the European Commission's Biodiversity Strategy 2020, adopted in 2011, which aims to stem the loss of biological diversity, and to improve the state of European species, living areas, ecosystems and ecosystem services. This strategy comprises a number of primary goals, which should reduce the most important strains on nature and ecosystem services in Europe. These include, amongst others, complete implementation of the EU conservation legislation, better protection of ecosystems, and more sustainable methods in agriculture, forestry and fishing. “The data collected during ESMERALDA will assist the European states involved towards reaching the goals of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, step by step,” said the project coordinator, Dr Benjamin Burkhard, of the Institute for Natural Resource Conservation at Kiel University.

The kick-off conference is also the first working group meeting for the EU project, which should plan the further steps involved for the various sub-projects, and organise the international cooperation between the participating nations. The implementation of the individual measures is largely in the hands of universities and research institutes, but the involvement of politics and society from the very beginning remains an important element. Following the kick-off event in Kiel, there will be a series of workshops spread over the entire duration of the project, with the next meeting taking place in October 2015 in Riga, Latvia. Burkhard and his team landed the ESMERALDA project as the first Horizon 2020 project at Kiel University. It is funded by the Commission of the European Union with a total budget of a good three million Euros, of which around 600,000 Euros go to Kiel University.

Horizon 2020 is a subsidy programme of the European Union for research and development. The goal is to contribute towards a creating a knowledge and innovation-supported society and competitive economy in Europe, and simultaneously to support sustainable development. The programme comprises numerous key areas of focus, and includes a detailed catalogue of measures.

Key facts:

What: Kick Off Conference "ESMERALDA – Enhancing ecosystem services mapping for policy and decision making“

When: Monday 4 May to Thursday 7 May 2015

Where: Centre for Molecular Biosciences (ZMB), Kiel University, Am Botanischen Garten 11, 24118 Kiel


Dr Benjamin Burkhard

Institute for Natural Resource Conservation, Kiel University

Tel.: +49 (0)431/-880-1230


More information:

The ESMERALDA project website:

Institute for Natural Resource Conservation, Department of Ecosystem Management