Welcome to the Ecosystem Services in EU explorer

Welcome to the HERCULES Ecosystem Services in EU explorer

This theme contains data about: Wild food spatial distribution and demand and supply of pollination.

Wild food spatial distribution

Wild food spatial distribution and relations between supply&demand of wild food in the European Union (EU), covering all terrestrial wild food groups. A wide variety of game (38 species), mushrooms (27 species) and vascular plants (81 species) is collected and consumed throughout the EU. Income, age, gender, possibilities for collecting, and cultural factors explain the importance of wild food.

Wild food is an iconic, sometimes debated, but certainly enjoyed ecosystem service. In most of Europe, there is ample availability of edible species from the wild. We estimate that at least 65 million EU citizens collect wild food and at least a 100 million consume wild food. Wild food comprises a small fraction of the total food consumption and economy in the EU, but the collecting is an appreciated recreational activity that is possibly gaining importance as a cultural service. However, ongoing concerns on the impact of wild food collecting on the populations of wild food species have triggered both prohibiting harvest of specific species but also the introduction of species, e.g. Chestnuts in forests (Emanuelsson, 2009). A considerable part of EU citizens enjoy the ecosystem service wild food. Therefore, it should be included in the mainstream ecosystem service assessments at EU scale. It may however be rather considered as a cultural service than as a provisioning service in Europe. Wild food can provide away to add value to ecosystems and fits the plea for multifunctional landscapes. For an easy availability of wild food, a varied landscape with easy access is important. Intensification in agriculture and forestry could be harmful for the availability and accessibility of wild food. Management and conservation of semi-natural areas could be beneficial for the supply of this service, but more research is needed on that. Due to lack of data on the supply, demand and benefits of wild food, it is not regularly included in assessments of ecosystem services. Consequently, its many benefits – health, leisure, identity – are probably underestimated. Better estimates could be made if more and better consistent data on abundance and production of wild food were available and by an inventory of the participation in wild food collecting in more countries.

More inofrmation available in the A synthesis of knowledge and data of terrestrial wild food as an ecosystem service analysis.

Demand and supply of pollination

Pollination is an important ecosystem service for the production of many food crops. The supply of pollination is mostly studied at the landscape scale while recent studies on the demand for pollination services provide a global-scale picture based on aggregate national-level data. This theme contains both demand and supply of pollination in the European Union (EU) at a relatively high spatial resolution, allowing an analysis of the match between demand and supply.

Twelve percent of the EU cropland area needs biotic pollinationfor optimal crop production. In 3% of this area, biotic pollination isessential. GL’s are important for the pollinator supply. AlthoughGL’s comprise <0.5% of the pollinator habitat, they ensure highpollination probabilities in >10% of the croplands. Especially largeareas in the northwestern EU rely completely on GL’s for polli-nator supply. In half of the area with a high pollinator demand,the supply is high as well, but in three quarters of this area thesupply depends on either GL’s or on patches of (semi)natural landonly.The pollinator dependent crops included in the analysis repre-sent 31% of the EU income from crop production. Complete absenceof pollinators could decrease the crop production by almost 7% andthe returns by 10%. To ensure optimal crop pollination in areaswith a high pollinator demand and a low supply, farmers havetwo options: to pollinate crops with managed honeybees, or to take efforts to attract more wild pollinators. A drawback of rely-ing completely on honeybees is the current decline in honeybeepopulations. There is clear evidence for severe declines in domes-tic honeybee stocks in Europe (25% loss of colonies in central Europebetween 1985 and 2005 (Potts et al., 2010b)). Domestic honey-bees are threatened by the colony collapse disorder (CCD) (Le Conteet al., 2010; Neumann and Carreck, 2010). Multiple causes of CCDhave been proposed, including pesticides, pathogens, parasites, andhabitat degradation (Cox-Foster et al., 2007; Dhruba Naug, 2009;Henry et al., 2012). Wild bees are sensitive to the same threats(Potts et al., 2010a) but at least for the effect of pathogens and para-sites, the solitary lifestyle of many wild bees is likely to lower thesusceptibility.A second drawback of pollination by honeybees only is the riskof a lower quantity and quality of production. Although most visitsto crops are made by managed bees, there are many indicationsthat pollination by a variety of species ensures optimal crop devel-opment and increased yield, even in crops that are only partlyself-incompatible (Steffan-Dewenter, 2003; Hoehn et al., 2008;Andersson et al., 2012).Enhancing green infrastructure is often seen as a managementoption capable of attracting wild pollinators and is beneficial forthe provision of other ecosystem services as well (Wratten et al.,2012). The EU Biodiversity Strategy acknowledges the importanceof ecosystem services and the role of green landscape elements, bystating that “By 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintainedand enhanced by establishing green infrastructure” (EuropeanCommission, 2011). Given our results, key areas for implemen-tation of this strategy are areas with a high pollinator demandand a low supply (Fig. 8). In areas where pollination is dominantlysupplied by (semi-)natural patches the stability of pollination sup-ply can be increased by establishing or restoring additional GL’s(Fig. 6).Another option to improve the match between pollinationdemand and supply is to decrease the area of pollinator dependentcrops in locations with a low supply and to concentrate crops witha high pollinator demand in areas with a high pollinator supply.For future allocation of pollinator-dependent biofuel crops (rapeseed, sun flowers and other oil crops), the demand and alloca-tion is influenced by the Renewable Energy Directive (“at least10% of each Member State’s transport fuel use must come fromrenewable sources (including biofuels)” (European Commission,2009)). The directive is expected to increase the oilseed area by1.5–2.2% (Fonseca et al., 2010). Hellmann and Verburg (2011)simulated the spatial distribution of biofuel crops in the EUunder four scenarios. Unless the distinct differences between thescenarios, biofuel crops were expected to expand under all sce-narios in central-eastern Europe and central France. Many ofthese areas have a low pollination supply (Fig. 8). In these areas,expansion of pollinator dependent biofuel crops should be accom-panied by establishing green infrastructure for optimal biofuelproduction.The spatial separation of areas with a high demand andareas with a high supply demonstrates that mapping demandand supply separately is essential for assessing the state anddevelopment of ecosystem services and protecting existing greeninfrastructure is of importance for the functioning of Europeanagro-ecosystems.

More inofrmation available in the Demand and supply ofpollination in the European Union analysis.