Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Assessment


Recognizing Natura 2000 benefits and demonstrating the economic benefits of conservation measures

Even though knowledge about the value of biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide is steadily increasing, there is still an apparent lack of quantitative/monetary and well-documented information on the socio-economic benefits associated with protected areas, including Natura 2000, in Europe. Existing information on the socio-economic significance of Natura 2000 is mainly related to benefits arising from direct and indirect employment supported by Natura 2000 sites. In addition, data is available on the socio-economic impacts of cultural ecosystem services, in particular tourism and recreation.

However, there is a clear shortage of well-documented examples demonstrating and, in particular, quantifying the value of other ecosystem services relevant in the context of the network, such as sustainable production of certified products from Natura 2000 sites, role of Natura 2000 areas in purifying water and maintaining healthy populations of species (such as pollinators and natural enemies of pests). Many case studies also relate to terrestrial sites as far less information is available on marine protected areas. All this has led to an underappreciation of the value of Natura 2000 in the public, policy and political spheres.


The objectives of this contract are threefold:

  • Relevant authorities in the EU Member States should be made aware about the benefits Natura 2000 provides in order to recognize them at an early stage in the formulation of the wide range of projects that they will consider. For this purpose a special information/working tool for decision-makers should be elaborated.
  • As conditions of many habitats and species within the Natura 2000 network are unfavourable, they will require active restoration measures, implying significant costs. The results of analysing cases should quantify the potential economic benefits arising from such investments and offer the ability to assess different ‘options’ of the actions.
  • To develop a set of general recommendations on measures and approaches that optimizes the economic benefits for Natura 2000 while also fulfilling the primary goal for the favourable conservation of species and habitats of the European Union.

Time frame

The duration of the project was 9 months: from December 2010 until August 2011.


  • ARCADIS, Belgium (Project coordinator)
  • ECNC-European Centre for Nature Conservation, the Netherlands
  • Eftec (Economics for the Environment Consultancy), United Kingdom


European Commission Directorate-General Environment (DG ENV.SRD.2)


Development of a tool for valuing conservation measure (see final publication on the right). The purpose of this tool is to guide appraisal of the economic impacts of conservation measures taken to manage Natura 2000 sites in the EU. It clearly demonstrates the numerous links between concrete conservation measures and the affected ecosystem services.