A Multi-indicator Framework for Mapping Cultural Ecosystem Services: The Case of Freshwater Recreational Fishing

Ecological IndicatorsEcological Indicators, Volume 45, October 2014, Pages 255–265

By Amy M. Villamagna, Beatriz Mogollón, and Paul L. Angermeier


  • We developed a framework to map freshwater fishing, a cultural ecosystem service.
  • We compared capacity and demand spatially to assess relative sustainability.
  • Fishing demand was highest in urban areas.
  • Capacity was low in the eastern region of the study area.
  • Relative capacity exceeded demand in 83% of North Carolina and 95% of Virginia.
  • High demand-low capacity areas were common in suburban areas of North Carolina.

“Despite recent interest, ecosystem services are not yet fully incorporated into private and public decisions about natural resource management. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are among the most challenging of services to include because they comprise complex ecological and social properties and processes that make them difficult to measure, map or monetize. Like others, CES are vulnerable to landscape changes and unsustainable use. To date, the sustainability of services has not been adequately addressed and few studies have considered measures of service capacity and demand simultaneously. To facilitate sustainability assessments and management of CES, our study objectives were to (1) develop a spatially explicit framework for mapping the capacity of ecosystems to provide freshwater recreational fishing, an important cultural service, (2) map societal demand for freshwater recreational fishing based on license data and identify areas of potential overuse, and (3) demonstrate how maps of relative capacity and relative demand could be interfaced to estimate sustainability of a CES.

Freshwater recreational fishing, a popular pastime, generates income, jobs, and funding for conservation. Image: Virginia Tech

Freshwater recreational fishing, a popular pastime, generates income, jobs, and funding for conservation. Image: Virginia Tech

“We mapped freshwater recreational fishing capacity at the 12-digit hydrologic unit-scale in North Carolina and Virginia using a multi-indicator service framework incorporating biophysical and social landscape metrics and mapped demand based on fishing license data. Mapping of capacity revealed a gradual decrease in capacity eastward from the mountains to the coastal plain and that fishing demand was greatest in urban areas. When comparing standardized relative measures of capacity and demand for freshwater recreational fishing, we found that ranks of capacity exceeded ranks of demand in most hydrologic units, except in 17% of North Carolina and 5% of Virginia. Our GIS-based approach to view freshwater recreational fishing through an ecosystem service lens will enable scientists and managers to examine (1) biophysical and social factors that foster or diminish cultural ecosystem services delivery, (2) demand for cultural ecosystem services relative to their capacity, and (3) ecological pressures like potential overuse that affect service sustainability. Ultimately, we expect such analyses to inform decision-making for freshwater recreational fisheries and other cultural ecosystem services.”

OGC and Joint Research Centre to Collaborate on Standards for Geospatial Interoperability

OGC_Logo_Border_Blue_3DThe Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) have signed a collaboration agreement to enhance the development and use of geospatial standards. It is anticipated that this collaboration will enable the JRC to more effectively contribute to the OGC standards process, and facilitate the consideration of European objectives and requirements during the development of international open geospatial standards.

The agreement formalises the partners’ planned collaboration in the field of development, application, maintenance and promotion of international open geospatial standards and best practices in support of European objectives and requirements, in particular in relation to the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive.

“This is an important step forward for both of our organisations,” explained Mark Reichardt, President and CEO of the OGC. “OGC benefits from the JRC’s leadership in advancing geospatial information sharing across Europe, enabled by open standards, including those of the OGC. The European Union benefits greatly from open standards that improve discovery, sharing and application of diverse collections of information to address a range of important issues.”

According to Mrs. Maria Betti, Director of the JRC’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, “During the development and implementation of INSPIRE, the JRC has gathered a lot of experience on the implementation of infrastructures for geospatial and environmental data based on interoperability standards – on an unprecedented scale. The joint activities of the OGC and the JRC will be instrumental in feeding this experience into the international standardisation process.”

About the JRC

As the Commission’s in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre’s mission is to provide EU policies with independent, evidence-based scientific and technical support throughout the whole policy cycle. Working in close cooperation with policy Directorates-General, the JRC addresses key societal challenges while stimulating innovation by developing new methods, tools and standards, and sharing its know-how with the Member States, the scientific community and international partners. Visit the JRC Science Hub at https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/ .

The JRC is the technical coordinator of the Directive establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE – 2007/2/EC).

About the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®)

The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 475 companies, government agencies, research organisations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC standards support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org/.

[Source: OGC press release]