This Science/Policy approach generates knowledge on ecosystems services to create tools for a sustainable landscape management and improving human well-being
This practice responds to the goals established in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, highlighting the need for knowledge in order to maintain and restore the natural environment and preserve ecosystem services as our life insurance.
The work team has been the result of the collective participation of researchers, social organizations, administrative personnel and policymakers. This interdisciplinary group has made possible to integrate scientific methodologies with policymaking practices in order to create useful tools for the sustainable management of the Basque Country. Some examples of these methodoligies: Identification of the ecosystem services in the Basque Country; Diagnosis of the current status of the ecosystem services and their trend during the last quarter century using indicators; Analysis of the main direct drivers of change affecting the supply of services and their trend using indicators; Mapping of the main ecosystem services (Food production, Wood production, Habitat maintenance, Air quality regulation, Water flow regulation, Carbon storage, Pollination, Recreation, Aesthetic value) at different scales (Country, local, urban…) and a proposal of a Green infrastructure for the Basque Country; Applicability and integration mechanisms of the results in the management (Land planning, Environmental Impact Assessment…); Developing an indicator of the territory multifuntionality at municipality scale; Social perception on ecosystem services using surveys.

Resources needed

The practice required the work of two full-time people and other eight people working on-kind (students, technicians and NGO members). Basque Government contributes 95,000 euros a year

Evidence of success

The most important success is the inclusion of methodological approach and results from the practice in public plans and strategies of management. These results had influence the implementation of politics such as: Strategy for Basque Land Management, and Planning for the Metropolitan area of Bilbao. Some other important issues have been reached, namely, the development of useful technical tools: mapping, indicators, others (spatially explicit accurate information).

Difficulties encountered

Regular contact among all practitioners is necessary and useful. Stakeholders‘ participation and collaboration between researchers, technicians and politicians are key factor for the practice success. The approach of ecosystem services could be this bridge between research and application.

Potential for learning or transfer

This practice responds to the goals established in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, highlighting the need for knowledge in order to maintain and restore the natural environment and, specifically, to preserve ecosystem services as our life insurance. Besides, the project is interconnected to other national assessments, as well as to the Sub-Global Assessment Network.
The ecosystem services practice in the Basque Country contributes to improve nature conservation and land-use policies in that line, with participation of stakeholders. In this sense, sharing a common conceptual and methodological approach with other regions can help to develop suitable practices in other areas of Europe.

In addition to sharing the results (published most of them), it is also important to share the conceptual framework and new applied methodologies, as well as the examples of plans and strategies based in the results of the practice, that have been implemented in the Basque Country.

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Development and Environmental Education. University of the Basque Country
País Vasco, Spain (España)
Start Date
January 2012
End Date


Marta Iturribarria Please login to contact the author.

Good Practices being followed by

Leire Méndez-Fernández