Newsletter No 1 March 2012

Tradeoffs between biodiversity conservation, climate adaptation and ecosystem service provision


Ecosystem services are one of the main research themes in IVM. Besides a strong expertise in the monetary valuation of ecosystem services IVM now has conducted research on the way in which climate change adaptation measures have synergistic and conflicting impacts on biodiversity conservation and the provision of ecosystem services. Many adaptation measures, which aim at reducing the increased risks for flooding as result of climate change, require changes in land use and land use management. Such changes, however, do also have major impacts on other ecosystem services and biodiversity. In many cases, such impacts are distant from the location of the actual adaptation measure as result of spatial spill-over effects. In a recently published paper an analysis at the level of the European Union has been made to make a quantitative estimation of such interactions and their spatial distribution (Verburg et al., 2012; ).

In other work novel methods have been developed to map the distribution of ecosystem services that are less commonly addressed in the ecosystem service literature, including the cultural services provided by agricultural landscapes. For the eastern part of the Netherlands maps of cultural ecosystem services were prepared based on the social preferences for landscape features and landscape structure.


CONNECT project for joint research

Building on these recent advances IVM is now leading a new ERA-NET project under the BiodivERsA initiative called CONNECT. This exciting new interdisciplinary project brings together leading groups on ecosystem service research and biodiversity across Europe in a joint endeavor to progress both science and make a policy impact.

Biodiversity policy is increasingly influenced by evidence about the role of biodiversity in the provision of ecosystem services. However, the current state of scientific knowledge and empirical evidence is inconclusive and does not provide a sufficiently robust basis to make definite statements about whether securing the provision of specific ecosystem services will also guarantee biodiversity conservation, and vice versa. Conserving land for biodiversity purposes is often beneficial for some ecosystem services but at the expense of other ecosystem services. This is especially the case in many European landscapes where human activities have since long shaped biodiversity and landscapes. CONNECT will improve and integrate existing research methods from different natural and social science disciplines for the analysis of potential synergies, conflicts and associated tradeoffs in support of effective policy and management.The CONNECT approach

With CONNECT the consortium aims to create an:  1) an empirically tested decision-support framework for analysis of synergies and tradeoffs between biodiversity, ecosystem services and associated socio-economic benefits, and 2) practical guidelines for the design of effective conservation policies based on improved scientific understanding of the relationship between ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Connect will examine which dimensions of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity contribute to ecosystem functioning and hence to ecosystem service provision. Assessment of synergies and tradeoffs between biodiversity and ecosystem services conservation will be based on improved spatial modelling and mapping procedures and socio-economic valuation methods that are grounded in a better understanding of the complex interaction between ecosystem functioning and societal demand for ecosystem services. Improved theoretical and empirical insights will be translated into generic understanding that can support the development and implementation of policy instruments aimed at biodiversity conservation and the sustainable provision of ecosystem services.

Five case studies and an EU-wide assessment will be used to apply the methods and test the findings for operational management.   Case studies will include an interactive stakeholder process to reveal the role of current policies. The effectiveness of alternative strategies and policies to conserve biodiversity will be assessed while accounting for the tradeoffs and synergies between biodiversity and ecosystem services.  The results and their implications for biodiversity governance will be discussed during a policy workshop and contributed to science-policy networks such as TEEB and IPBES.

Project leader of the Connect project is Peter Verburg at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam. Other CONNECT staff at IVM includes Roy Brouwer, Nynke Schulp and Mark Koetse. Partners in the project are the Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine of CNRS Grenoble, France; the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig, Germany; Lund University, Sweden and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain.

For more information:

CONNECT Project: Click here or contact Peter Verburg (

Recent IVM publications on ecosystem services:

Verburg PH, Koomen E, Hilferink M, Pérez-Soba M, Lesschen J-P. An assessment of synergies between climate change adaptation measures and ecosystem services in Europe. Landscape Ecology.

Seppelt R, Fath B, Burkhard B, Fisher JL, Gret-Regamay A, Lautenbach S, Pert P, Hotes S, Spangenberg J, Verburg PH, van Oudenhoven APE. Form follows function? Proposing a blueprint for ecosystem service assessment studies based on reviews and case studies. Ecological Indicators.

Willemen L, Veldkamp A, Leemans R, Hein L, Verburg PH. 2012.  A multi-scale approach for analyzing landscape service dynamics. Journal of Environmental Management 100, 86-95.