Operational Potential of Ecosystem Research Applications

Project: Research

Research areas and keywords


  • ecosystem services


Ecosystems provide humankind with a range of beneficial resources, goods and services. Yet human use and exploitation of the biosphere is increasing at such a pace and scale that many of the major ecosystems are threatened, and may not be able to continue to function in ways that are vital to support the existence of humanity.

The European ecosystem services project OPERAs (Operational Potential of Ecosystems Research Applications) explores how to apply the ecosystem services and natural capital concepts in support of sustainable ecosystem management.

In simple terms, ecosystem services are the benefits people get from nature. They include provisioning services, such as crops for food and fiber; regulating and maintenance services, such as water filtration, pollination, and carbon sequestration; and cultural services, such as recreation and education. Natural capital refers to the stocks of natural resources that provide these services.

The ecosystem services and natural capital concepts have been adopted in high-level policy frameworks, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the EU biodiversity strategy. However, a mismatch still exists between scientific understanding and the practical application of this knowledge in policy and decision-making practice.

OPERAs is consortium of academic, civil society and private partners working together with business, policy and non-profit partners to help bring ecosystem services and natural capital tools and approaches into decision-making processes. Its goal is to explore whether, how and under what conditions these concepts can move beyond the academic domain and towards practical implementation.
StatusNot started