Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Assessment



Operationalisation of Natural Capital and EcoSystem Services: From Concepts to Real-world Applications

Despite improved understanding of the links between ecosystem health, provision of ecosystem services and human well-being, further conceptual and empirical work is needed to make the ideas of ecosystem services (ESS) and natural capital (NC) operational.


OpenNESS aims to translate the concepts of NC and ES into operational frameworks that provide tested, practical and tailored solutions for integrating ES into land, water and urban management and decision-making. It examines how the concepts link to, and support, wider EU economic, social and environmental policy initiatives and scrutinizes the potential and limitations of the concepts of ES and NC. OpenNESS works in close cooperation with decision makers and other stakeholders.

The specific aims of OpenNESS are: 

  1. To advance conceptual understanding of ES and NC and provide operational frameworks for application of the concepts in real-world management and decision-making situations 
  2. To examine how existing and forthcoming EU regulatory frameworks can enhance or restore the benefits derived from ES and NC using multi-scale scenario approaches
  3. To develop and refine approaches for mapping and modelling the biophysical control of ES that can be used to assess the effectiveness of mechanisms, instruments and best management practices for sustaining ES delivery in the face of multiple uncertain drivers whilst conserving biodiversity 
  4. To develop hybrid methodologies that address trade-offs, synergies and conflicting interests and values in the use of ES through a combination of monetary, non-monetary and deliberative methods within multi-criteria and Bayesian approaches to decision support 
  5. To apply the concepts and methods developed and refined in the project to concrete, place-based case studies (Figure 1) in a range of social-ecological systems with stakeholders and analyse the implications of local, regional and EU level decisions on the ES flows and use in other parts of the world 
  6. To translate the results into policy recommendations and integrate the outputs in a Menu of Multi-Scale Solutions and associated datasets that are available for ES users and managers as well as decision-makers
  7. To disseminate the results and to promote and maintain science-policy dialogue on the use of the concepts of ES and NC in sustainable land, water and urban management.

ECNC will have a role as work package leader on the final objective (7): impact and dissemination.

Time frame

The project started in December 2012 and ends in May 2017.


OpenNESS is coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). The consortium consists of research institutes from 22 European and four non-European countries and 10 SMEs. Visit the OpenNESS partners' webpage for the full list of partners.


OpenNESS is funded by the European Commission, Directorate General for Research, within the 7th Framework Programme of RTD, Theme Environment (including climate change).