Assessing the impacts of policies on a wide range of ecosystem services can support the development of cost-effective policies that establish win–win situations across different environmental domains. To explore the quantity and value of ecosystem services, the web-based application “nature value explorer” was developed. The application allows to estimate the impact of land use and land cover change on regulating and cultural ecosystem services in Flanders, Belgium. To ensure the applicability in day-to-day decision making as part of environmental impact assessments, user requirements were investigated prior to tool development. Finding the optimal balance between accuracy and complexity on the one hand and flexibility and user-friendliness on the other hand was an important challenge. To date, the nature value explorer has been successful in drawing the interest of policy makers and has been used several times to support decisions in infrastructure projects as well as in nature restoration projects in Flanders. This paper discusses the user requirements, the main tool characteristics, potential policy applications and future improvements. Three case studies illustrate the functionalities of the tool in day-to-day decision making.
- Ecosystem services
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Environmental impact assessment
- Web application