Published on 28 June 2021
About this good practice
In Latvia, forests are the most widespread terrestrial ecosystems covering 53% of the country. Apart from timber resources, forests provide a number of other ecosystem services (ES), many of which in the opinion of the society are more important than wood. The aim of the Forest Ecosystem Services Mapping and Assessment Methodology (FESMAM) is to spatially map and evaluate various benefits provided by the forest, as well as changes in the provided ES over time and in the result of anthropogenic intervention, e.g., different forest management operations. To systematize the ES, the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) was used. For a spatial evaluation of the ES the matrix model was applied. It is a flexible approach which is able to deliver comparable results on various spatial scales depending on the geospatial units used in this model. Depending on the scope of assessment and data availability, the indicator scales may be built on the basis of biophysical data or expert assessment. During the research programme “Impact of forest management on ecosystem services from forests and related ecosystems”, 33 ES indicators of all three ES types - provisioning, regulating and cultural - have been developed.
Approximate costs of the development of FESMAM – 180 000 EUR. The team of one senior researcher, two researchers and three scientific assistants were involved in this task. Further 100 000 EUR are needed in the coming years to update the FESMAM, complementing it with indicators for cultural ES.
Evidence of success
The FESMAM has been currently tested in a model area (3000 ha size) typical for the state forests where intensive forest management operations have been carried out during the time period from 2015 to 2018. The evaluation of ES has been repeated twice (before and after the management intervention) to evaluate the short-term changes of ecosystem services values after forest management operations. Individual indicators according to this methodology have been calculated for the whole country.
Potential for learning or transfer
The ES approach in general and FESMAM in particular have a wide potential for use in different geographical regions, as specific indicators may be adjusted and new indicators may be developed in the same framework depending on data availability and particular conditions. Indicators developed in Latvia may have a potential of transfer to other countries with similar forest structure and detail of forest inventory. They may also provide ideas for new indicators applicable under different conditions. The inclusion of all three ES types in the assessment highlights the multifunctionality of forest ecosystems and may help to raise awareness on sustainable management of natural resources.