INBO Research Challenges

Ecosystem monitoring and ecosystem accounting

Towards completing ecosystem monitoring in response to the demand for ecosystem accounting

Monitoring provides crucial information to underpin and evaluate biodiversity policy in Flanders and beyond. Monitoring can be done at different scales (e.g. Flanders, provinces, area level) and for different policy goals (e.g. status and trend of species and ecosystems, effectiveness of policy).

Within this research challenge, INBO opts for ecosystem monitoring at the Flanders scale. Monitoring includes extent, quality and ecosystem services. We measure the state now and changes compared to previous periods. INBO cannot do this alone and works together with other policy bodies and research institutes for this purpose.

Through ecosystem monitoring, we aim to answer a variety of policy questions: the demand for ecosystem accounting by the European Union and the United Nations, the NEC directive, habitat reporting, reporting for the Water Framework Directive, the European Forest Monitoring Regulation, LULUCF reporting and soil health reporting. To monitor an ecosystem, we need a measure to determine whether it is degraded or not. This includes more natural ecosystems such as forests, moors, wetlands, but also agro-ecosystems and urban ecosystems. INBO will develop ecosystem accounts on the extent and condition of ecosystems and service accounts in Flanders. To do so, we will evaluate the existing monitoring networks, see which data are missing and where additional monitoring networks are needed.

Ecosystem monitoring is a core task of INBO and other bodies of the Flemish government. To arrive at state accounts, it is also necessary to determine reference values. For this, we work together with ecosystem and species specialists and with socio-economic experts, especially for urban areas and agro-ecosystems.

INBO's core mission includes:

  • the habitat quality monitoring network
  • monitoring networks for priority plant and animal species
  • the biological valuation map
  • the forest reserve monitoring network
  • forest vitality monitoring
  • the general and special breeding birds monitoring network
  • the fish monitoring network
  • monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the Scheldt estuary

INBO has also received additional paid assignments from the administration:

  • a soil carbon monitoring network (Cmon)
  • surveillance monitoring networks for invasive alien species
  • Agricultural Biodiversity Monitoring Network (MBAG)
  • the Natural Environment Monitoring Networks (MNM)
  • monitoring for the Programmatic Approach to Nitrogen (PAS)


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