This project received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration. Contract Number 311879
Nature can provide a multitude of hidden benefits to humans such as control of crop pests by their natural enemies, crop pollination, and prevention of soil erosion that keeps rivers clean. These are known as ecological services and are worth billions of euros every year in each European country.
The QuESSA project aimed to quantify the key semi-natural habitats (SNH) providing essential ecosystem services (ES) across economically important cropping systems, farming intensities and four European agro-climatic zones.
This was achieved by first identifying the most dominant vegetation types that support potential ES for the main SNH found on farmed land. Measurements of ecosystem service providers (pollinators and pest natural enemies) led to the development of a scoring system for the main habitat types. Actual ES provision was measured in 16 case studies in 8 countries. The ES investigated included control of crop pests by natural enemies, crop pollination, soil erosion, soil fertility and aesthetic value. Data was used to develop mathematical models and maps that explored how the amounts, type and location of SNH influenced ES from farm to European scale. Models were also be used to explore synergies and trade-offs among ES by SNH from habitat to landscape scale and identify unused opportunities to better exploit ES. Investigations of private and public economic benefits, and non-monetary value of selected ES were conducted. A brochure describing the project with crop specific recommendations is available to download above, along with the final report, key deliverables and presentations from the final conference.