Authors: Kateřina Mácová, Jitka Kozubková
We introduced the topic of ecosystem services to almost sixty people working in nature conservation at two seminars held in Prague and Brno in May (as part of the One Nature project). This was a step forward to greater availability of the concept of assessment of nature’s services and contributions in conservation practice.
At the seminars organised by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA CR), we addressed, for example, the following questions:
- What is and what is not assessment of nature’s contributions to people (NCP), i.e. ecosystem services assessment?
- Does ecosystem services assessment constitute just “expressing nature in monetary terms”?
- Are there any scientific findings within or without the Czech Republic that people involved in nature conservation can immediately adopt for their agenda?
- How do the scientific concepts of assessment, including valuation, relate to the existing legislation that determines the scope of the administrative agenda and therefore also the practice of nature conservation authorities? More simply put: “Do I already know this from somewhere?”.
- How are nature’s contributions to people (NCP) communicated?
The seminars were part of the Ecosystem Services Evaluation training module, which was developed for the One Nature project by the staff of the Charles University Environment Centre (CUEC), the Global Change Research Institute CAS – CzechGlobe, and the Biology Centre CAS – SoWa Research Infrastructure.
The training is relatively unique in its scope and focus and has no analogues even abroad. We view it as a necessary first step to bridging the gap between existing scientific knowledge, which is still fragmented and little known outside the scientific community, and its application in practice. The next level may be its inclusion in “sections” defining the state administration of nature conservation or in strategic documents across sectors. Currently, the concept of ecosystem services (ES) is already included in a number of national strategies in the field of nature conservation alone. Our goal is for science to help to make nature’s contributions to people visible, integrate them better into decision-making processes, and thereby enable better protection of common and rare ecosystems that are fundamental in the provision of benefits.
The programme of both of the seminars was identical. Davina Vačkářová (CzechGlobe) gave an introduction to ecosystem services assessment, how it can be used and its historical development. Prof. Jan Frouz (SoWa) subsequently addressed the possibilities and the context of biophysical assessment of ecosystem services. Kateřina Mácová and Eva Horváthová (CUEC and CzechGlobe) presented ecosystem services from the perspective of environmental economics. Jan Daněk (CzechGlobe) outlined the issue of socio-cultural assessment of ecosystem services and the related specifics of non-material contributions (cultural services).
The lecturers shared the responsibility for the final part of the seminars titled Ecosystem services for the practice of nature conservation authorities. Kateřina Mácová introduced the topic of ES in the legislation and strategies of the Czech Republic, which she prepared in collaboration with Jan Daněk, Tomáš Görner (NCA CR) and Jan Melichar (CUEC). Davina Vačkářová prepared an interactive questionnaire for the participants which aimed to simulate economic (in Brno) or socio-cultural (in Prague) ES assessment. Bronislav Farkač from CUEC presented the use of ES assessment for communication by nature conservation authorities.
We would like to thank the participants of both seminars from the ranks of employees of the regional offices of the NCA CR and regional authorities, who helped us, based on their own practice and experience, to explore the opportunities for and barriers to enhancing the depth of dialogue between science and practice.
Thanks to them, we also gained a lot of inspiration on how such barriers can be overcome, which will play a key role in setting up the project outputs for ecosystem services assessment so that we can help to better connect science and practice in nature conservation.
Future training and e-learning
Did you not manage to sign up on time? We are planning more seminars on the same topic for 2023. We will publish the dates in time, or you can follow the Ecosystem Services Evaluation Module page (Czech version).
In addition, we plan to launch an e-learning course on ecosystem services assessment in October 2022. We recommend following our website again, this time the E-learning page (Czech version). Both the seminars and the e-learning are in Czech, so please consider this before signing up.