Green space in cities and the countryside benefit not only the environment in which we live but also us – examples include recreation, water purification and wood production.The VITO methods and tools make it possible to better identify this win-win situation for humans and their environment and align policy decisions accordingly.

Assessing the value of ecosystems

Ecosystems  - including, naturally, urban and agricultural green ecosystems - are beneficial to society – we refer to this as 'ecosystem services'. Their economic value is gradually being recognised, but is often still underestimated. Given the above, green spaces (and their added value) are often overlooked in spatial decision-making processes. To summarise: we quantify this green value, express it in terms of money and then we make them visible and better integratable. VITO develops the methods and tools necessary for this purpose.

Benefit from experience

The VITO expertise of ecosystem services focuses primarily on the monetary valuation. We also develop methods designed to better map out the cultural services of green spaces – examples include recreational opportunities and the impact that green space has on health. VITO also specialises in building decision-support tools and in the spatial mapping of ecosystem services; we use the latest modelling techniques for the latter.

Online calculation tool

One VITO tool is the Nature Value Explorer: this is an online calculation tool that end users use to establish the impact that various land use scenarios will have on the value of ecosystem services. These pragmatic methods for the valuation of ecosystem services enable us to help land developers, governments, nature conservation organisations or land managers. They can be used to show the value of changes in land use, the benefits of management measures or the advantages of green development projects. Companies use these methods to calculate the impact of their production process or company premises on the local green space