Quantify the benefits of green-blue infrastructure with the new spatially explicit version of the Nature Value Explorer

The new version of the Nature Value Explorer was recently introduced to an audience of governments, land managers, urban planners, landscape developers and higher education. The Nature Value Explorer is an online and freely available tool that enables a quantification of the socio-economic importance of green-blue space. This way you can calculate ecosystem services such as cooling, infiltration of water, air and water treatment, and health benefits. These are all services that respond to the challenges of the 21st century: greening the economy, climate adaptation, further improvement of the quality of the environment and human welfare in an urbanised Flanders.

VITO developed a first version of the Nature Value Explorer in 2011 on request of the Department Environment and health and the Agency for Nature and Forests. Since then, the tool has had several upgrades to be able to calculate the impact of changes in rural and urban environment on ecosystem services such as food production, cooling, recreation, water infiltration,… in a quick and accessible way and translate the results into interesting indicators. On the basis of pragmatic methods developed in various scientific projects and spatial data the case study the case study area, the benefits of green-blue infrastructure are calculated both in the city and in rural areas. The results show the impact of land use changes and  the added value of nature-based solutions, the benefits of management measures or the advantages of green development projects for humans. 

Because the calculation of ecosystem services is not a standard exercise in planning processes, it is important that the tool gives results in a simple and quick way. The new spatially explicit version is therefore very fast: The user draws its measures on a map and the tool does the rest. All spatial information is collected and filled out without the user having to intervene. The result will be displayed within half an hour.

Jeroen Panis
Agency for Nature and Forests

I mainly use the tool for guiding nature management plans. The new tool is user-friendly, fast and free of charge. The results are communicatively clear and often an eye opener for the owner of the site.

Guy Heutz

The tool can be used within many existing processes such as the drawing up of climate adaptation plans for cities and municipalities, nature management plans, socio-economic evaluation of nature development projects. In the near future, we will open a dialogue with the users of our tool to improve the applicability of the results for these specific  processes. We will, for example, examine whether spatial planners can immediately upload their plan without having to draw it again in the tool.

Inge Liekens

Our user community has its own LinkedIn group ‘natuurwaardeverkenner’ where applications and results can be discussed

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