Keynote Lecture Series: Understanding linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem services for exploring the impacts of environmental change

This Valuing Nature Keynote Lecture was given by Professor Paula Harrison, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). This 45 minute lecture was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Dr Rob Fish with Professor Michael Winter and Professor Rosie Hails. 

Lecture Video link -

Lecture Title: Understanding linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem services for exploring the impacts of environmental change

Date: 20 February 2018, 18:30 to 20:30

Venue:  Friends House, Hilda Clark 2 & 3, 173 - 177 Euston Road,  London, NW1 2BJ  


Nature and human society interact in complex ways. Biodiversity underpins many ecosystem services that produce value for people but, at the same time, human development has caused significant losses in biodiversity through overexploitation and other drivers of environmental change. These complex interactions result in significant uncertainties that make it difficult for societies to decide upon the most appropriate actions to adapt to, or to mitigate, the impacts of environmental change. However, improving understanding of at least some of the key relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and drivers of environmental change will help guide effective management and protection strategies.

Evidence chains provide a systematic way of portraying the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how they are affected by drivers, impacts and management/policy responses. Each relationship in the chain is supported by a strength of evidence assessment based on a compilation of relevant scientific literature, data, models and expert knowledge. This has been supported by a systematic review of 780 journal articles which contain information on the contribution of different species, habitats and management techniques to the delivery of 13 ecosystem services.
The synthesis of current scientific understanding in evidence chains is useful for developing and improving models which simulate the impacts of environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem services, allowing decision-makers to test different adaptation or mitigation strategies through “what if” experiments. A participatory integrated assessment (IA) tool (the IMPRESSIONS IA Platform) has been developed to allow stakeholders to assess climate change adaptation for a range of ecosystem services from the agricultural, forestry, biodiversity, coastal, water and urban sectors. The tool enables stakeholders to explore and understand the complex interactions and trade-offs between ecosystem services under different scenario futures in planning adaptation responses. Such insight builds the capacity of decision-makers to understand the full extent of climate change vulnerability, rather than viewing single sectors in isolation, highlighting the need to mainstream adaptation across sectors and policies.

Biography: Paula Harrison is Professor of Land and Water Modelling and the Principal Natural Capital Scientist at the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology. She specialises in working across disciplines to integrate different types of knowledge using both modelling and participatory approaches to find innovative solutions for operationalising the natural capital and ecosystem service concepts and adapting to climate change. She is currently the Coordinator of the EU-funded €9m IMPRESSIONS project on risks of high-end climate change and is a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) regional assessment of Europe and Central Asia. She was a Contributing Author to the Europe chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report, and was a Coordinating Lead Author for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-On, assessing the robustness of response options for ecosystem services. 


The 45 minute lecture will be followed by responses from the following Panelists:

Dr Rob Fish (Chair) - Reader in Human Ecology at the University of Kent. Rob is a social scientist with research interests in the social and cultural dimensions of natural resource management. Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Michael Winter - Professor of Land Economy and Society,  Centre for Rural Policy Research (University of Exeter). Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Rosie Hails - Professor Hails is Director of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Science at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). Head of Programme Coordination Team Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Delegates will be encouraged to take part in a Q&A session to round off the evening.