CEH Director, Professor Mark Bailey, welcomed the publication today of the first National Ecosystem Assessment for the UK. He said, “The publication of the UK’s first National Ecosystem Assessment (UK-NEA) represents a major achievement for the UK’s environmental science community. The report underlines the value of biodiversity and demonstrates the vital role that our countryside plays in the provision of ecosystem services, such as pollination, water quality and recreation. I am pleased to see that throughout today the term ‘ecosystem services’ has been widely used across the country’s media outlets. The coverage generated is testament to the detailed analysis provided in each chapter of the 2000 page report.”Bee pollinating a flower - (c) Barnaby Smith/CEH

The analysis in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK-NEA) relied on a team of the 500 strong team of experts including input from over 20 senior CEH scientists. The UK-NEA also incorporated data from many of the UK’s core environmental monitoring programmes run by CEH staff.

A key input to the UK-NEA came from the Countryside Survey (CS) programme, which has been run by CEH for the last three decades. The CS Integrated Assessment report, published in Autumn 2010, was a major breakthrough in this respect, testing novel approaches for using CS data alongside other national scale datasets to understand how different ecosystem services respond to anthropogenic pressures over time.

The conclusions in the CS Integrated Assessment analysis quantified certain ecosystem services for the first time including pollination, clean freshwaters and soil carbon uptake, as well as publishing maps of where the services are provided to determine possible causes of changes over time, and modelling what might happen under ‘what if’ scenarios. Previous work on ecosystem services within the UK had focused on small scale experiments or on datasets which have been collected at different scales and with different purposes. The CS Integrated Assessment was uniquely able to use data collected at common sites using a sampling regime statistically designed to provide a representation of Great Britain.

At the time of publication of the CS Integrated Assessment the Lead author of the Integrated Assessment report, Dr Simon Smart said, “Quantifying ecosystem services and understanding the interactions between them provides a significant challenge for scientists, one which we’re only just developing techniques to investigate.”

"The publication of the UK’s first National Ecosystem Assessment (UK-NEA) represents a major achievement for the UK’s environmental science community." 

Prof Mark Bailey, Director, CEH.

Over the next five years CEH scientists plan to develop tools to allow much more detailed measurement of ecosystem services. The new tools will utilise the outputs from monitoring programmes including Countryside Survey, plus many of our other monitoring activities including the UK Environmental Change Network, the new UK Land Cover Map (being published on 7 July 2011), datasets from the NERC Soil Portal, and new findings from the UK Pollinator Monitoring Network, to be co-ordinated by CEH, which will launch in 2012.

Professor Bailey added, “I’m proud to say that CEH scientists have made a major contribution to the NEA. Input from many of our senior staff as authors and members of the NEA Expert Panel builds on the groundbreaking Countryside Survey Integrated Assessment report we published last autumn. The study of ecosystem services is at the heart of the research that CEH undertakes as the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in terrestrial, freshwater and atmospheric sciences. Our extensive environmental monitoring programmes, when linked with our national capability in ecological, biogeochemical and hydrological research, underpins our role as one of the leading international centres for ecosystem research.”

CEH input to National Ecosystem Assessment

Expert Panel: Rosie Hails, Bridget Emmett, Lindsay Maskell

Chapter Co-ordinating authors: James Bullock (chapter 6), Laurence Jones (chapter 11)

Chap 3: Drivers of change in UK ecosystems and ecosystem services - CEH contributing authors: Laurence Jones, Amanda Thomson

Chap 4: Biodiversity in the context of ecosystem services - CEH contributing authors: Mark Bailey, Aidan Keith, Lindsay Maskell, Christopher Reading, Sarah Turner, Adam Vanbergen, Allan Watt

Chap 5: Mountains, moorlands and heaths - CEH Lead authors: Don Monteith

Chap 6: Semi-natural grasslands - Coordinating Lead Author: James Bullock; CEH Lead authors: Bridget Emmett, Richard Pywell; CEH Contributing authors: Ben Woodcock, Matt Heard, Claire Carvell

Chap 9: Freshwaters – Openwaters, wetlands and floodplains, CEH Lead authors: Mike Acreman; CEH contributing authors: Michael Dunbar, Alan Jenkins, Steve Maberly, Jonathan Newman

Chap 11: Coastal Margins - Coordinating Lead Author: Laurence Jones; CEH Lead Authors: Angus Garbutt

Chap 13: Supporting Services - CEH Lead Authors: Bridget Emmett, Alan Jenkins

Chap 14: Regulating Services - CEH Lead Authors: Chris Evans, Rosie Hails, Amanda Thomson; CEH contributing authors: Helen Hesketh, Andrew Johnson, Linda May, Beth Purse

Chap 17: Status and changes in ecosystems and their services to society: England - CEH contributing author: Laurence Jones

Chap 20: Status and changes in ecosystems and their services to society: Wales - CEH Lead authors: Laurence Jones, Brian Reynolds, David Robinson

Additional information

Countryside Survey website

National Ecosystem Assessment: Major study reveals hidden value of nature - 2 June 2011

Countryside Survey – Integrated Assessment report published - 27 October 2010

Defra issued a press release to coincide with the publication of the UK NEA. Copies of the synthesis report and the full technical findings will be available to download from the UK NEA website.




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