Humankind benefits from a multitude of resources and processes that are supplied by natural ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are called ecosystem services. The key challenge of modern policy making in the domain of environment, ecosystem management and sustainability is to prevent or reduce further  degradation of ecosystems and the ES they deliver, while meeting increasing demands of urban expansion and industrialization. Integrated and multi-disciplinary tools that can give clear insights in the ecosystems ability to supply ES and that estimate the amount  of ecosystem services  and its impact on human welfare are badly needed. ECOPLAN seeks a clear added value of a tool that is geared towards the European Context and the linkages with its directives and policies on environmental quality, rural development, land-soil and water management.

ECOPLAN wants to progress in resolving the following important scientific challenges regarding ecosystem services research:

  • Challenge 1: Develop scientifically sound methods for a more precise and policy relevant valuation of demand for ecosystem services
  • Challenge 2: Characterizing structure and dynamics of service providing units by  hybrid modelling that combines object based modelling with pixel based modelling
  • Challenge 3:  To develop and use conceptual modelling approaches to resolve complexity issues in the field of ES research
  • Challenge 4: Quantify accuracy that is needed for different levels of decision support and land use management
  • Challenge 5: Development of innovative remote sensing techniques for ecosystem services research

ECOPLAN is a transdisciplinary project involving stakeholder-supported research on inventory, monitoring, mapping, quantification, determination of supply and demand, economical valuation and policy guidance on Ecosystem Services in Flanders. It is a state-of-the-art project which goes beyond existing, locally and temporarily applicable regional ES-assessments, and cover a much wider scope of scientific challenges involved in planning for ecosystem services. The ECOPLAN project has both a strong scientific research agenda, but focusses also on the usefulness of the results to Flemish policy and potential implementation in different policy domains.