Use and usefulness of open source spatial databases for the assessment and management of European coastal and marine ecosystem services
Assessing the stocks and flows of ecosystem services valued by society is crucial to ensure the sustainable management of marine ecosystems, as required by the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD; EC, 2008). The mapping of these ecosystem services enhances the flow of information from researchers to practitioners, contributing to a better management of ecosystem services. The objective of this paper is twofold. First, a screening and evaluation of available open source spatial databases was conducted to assess their usefulness to map European coastal and marine ecosystem services. Second, these spatial databases were classified according to the DPSIR (Drivers, Pressures, Status, Impacts, Responses) framework and the MSFD descriptors to assess how this information can inform decision-makers. The supply of explicit spatial information was used as main screening criteria and allowed to identify 581 existing databases. These databases were then categorised according to a set of criteria (including data collection methods and updating frequency) related with their usefulness to be applied to map ecosystem services. The databases that did not meet the selected criteria (e.g. no explicit spatial information) were discarded. This process allowed to identify 329 spatial databases useful for coastal and marine ecosystem services mapping in Europe. The databases were then distinguished based on the ability to work the data on a GIS software, identifying 193 databases that allowed further analysis (hereafter applicable), and 136 databases that do not allow the extraction of data (hereafter non-applicable). The applicable spatial databases were further linked to the i) CICES framework for ecosystem services classification, ii) DPSIR framework and iii) descriptors considered in the MSFD. The obtained results showed that 42% of the spatial databases can be useful to map regulation services, followed by provision (33%) and cultural (21%) services. Considering the DPSIR framework, more than half can be used as proxies to evaluate coastal and marine ecosystems status (66%), followed by proxies of pressures (18%), drivers (8%), responses (4%), and finally impacts (4%). The available databases represent in a better way MSFD descriptors related to Hydrogeological conditions (D7), Eutrophication (D5), and Biodiversity (D1), being the non-indigenous species (D2) and contaminants in seafood (D9) descriptors somehow underrepresented. The obtained findings highlight the spatial open data limitations and challenges when mapping coastal and marine ecosystem services and contribute to the identification of spatial data gaps and opportunities when aiming for the sustainable management of marine ecosystems.