How ecosystem services are changing: an accounting application at the EU level
Ecosystem services accounts are a useful tool that provides relevant information on the role of ecosystems in delivering services, and the society benefiting from them. This paper presents the accounting workflow for ecosystem services at the European Union level adopted by the Knowledge Innovation Project on an Integrated system for Natural Capital and ecosystem services Accounting (KIP INCA) - a European Commission initiative. The workflow includes: 1) biophysical assessment of ecosystem services; 2) monetary valuation; and 3) compilation of accounting tables. Supply and use tables are presented for six ecosystem services assessed so far. The supply table shows woodland and forest, followed by wetlands, as the ecosystem types with the highest monetary value per unit area. Analyses of changes between 2000 and 2012 show an overall increase of the monetary value of ecosystem services, mainly due to an increase in demand for them. We also discuss advantages and disadvantages of adopting a fast-track approach, based on official statistics, in comparison to an accounting strategy based on spatial models. We propose a novel workflow for ecosystem services accounts, focused on assessment of the actual flow of ecosystem services, making a significant contribution to further development of the technical recommendations for ecosystem services accounts.