Uncertainties in Ecosystem Service Maps: A Comparison on the European Scale
Vliet, J. van
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Safeguarding the benefits that ecosystems provide to society is increasingly included as a target in international policies. Tosupport such policies, ecosystem service maps are made. However, there is little attention for the accuracy of these maps.We made a systematic review and quantitative comparison of ecosystem service maps on the European scale to generateinsights in the uncertainty of ecosystem service maps and discuss the possibilities for quantitative validation. Maps ofclimate regulation and recreation were reasonably similar while large uncertainties among maps of erosion protection andflood regulation were observed. Pollination maps had a moderate similarity. Differences among the maps were caused bydifferences in indicator definition, level of process understanding, mapping aim, data sources and methodology. Absence ofsuitable observed data on ecosystem services provisioning hampers independent validation of the maps. Consequently,there are, so far, no accurate measures for ecosystem service map quality. Policy makers and other users need to be cautiouswhen applying ecosystem service maps for decision-making. The results illustrate the need for better process understandingand data acquisition to advance ecosystem service mapping, modelling and validation.