Implementing an EU system of accounting for ecosystems and their services - Initial proposals for the implementation of ecosystem services accounts
Ecosystem services are the contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. Ecosystem accounts aim to measure these contributions in a consistent manner at different points in time. Such accounts allow tracking the changes in ecosystems including land, water and biodiversity, ecosystem extend and condition, and ecosystem services. Ecosystem accounts can be used to measure how ecosystems, through the delivery of ecosystem services, contribute to human well-being and the economy and how this evolves over time. The objective is to support decision making in the context of sustainable development. Consistent and regular updates of ecosystem accounts require the development of guidelines with best practises and testing these guidelines with pilot ecosystem accounts. This is the objective of the Knowledge Innovation Project on an Integrated system for Natural Capital and ecosystem services Accounting (KIP INCA). All Knowledge Innovation Projects were initiated under the European Knowledge Community umbrella to create the knowledge base for achieving the objectives of the 7th Environment Action Programme. KIP INCA was set up by the European Commission (including the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Directorate-General for Environment, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, and Eurostat) and the European Environment Agency. KIP INCA builds on the first phase of the EU initiative on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and Services (MAES), which aims to map and assess ecosystems and their services in the EU, and supports the second phase of MAES, which aims to value ecosystem services and integrate them into accounting and reporting systems by 2020.