Background and objectives

In late 2012 HaMaarag’s administration decided to develop and implement a national program for ecosystem assessment, called Israel National Ecosystem Assessment (INEA).

‘Ecosystem Assessment’ is a type of project first developed by an international and multidisciplinary group of scientists from natural and social sciences, under the name Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The process summarized existing knowledge from around the world regarding trends in ecosystems and the services they provide humans.

Similarly to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the assessment process of HaMaarag’s projects is also not designed to produce new primary knowledge, but rather to collate and synthesize existing knowledge. This knowledge is relevant to decision making, planning, and policy design regarding a subject of public significance: the importance of the services that Israeli society receives from open landscapes, and quantification of their value.

The final outcome of the assessment process is an extensive survey based on a wide range of sources that will present a situation report based on up-to-date knowledge. The report will deal with service provisioning in different ecosystems in Israel, with respect to all of the relevant ecological, social and ethical components.

Project objectives

The project is designed to increase awareness of our dependence on functioning ecosystems and their multi-dimensional value for us. At a more practical level, the project’s objective is to produce a knowledge base that will serve as a tool for managers and policy designers, for assimilating the value of ecosystem services and the biodiversity involved in their provision, in processes of planning and management of Israel’s landscapes.

Using a questionnaire, the project’s management staff clarified the central issues with the greatest importance for the Project Council; these issues guide the work on the final report:

What are the vectors of change that impact ecosystems and service provision?

Which tools and management alternatives are available for promoting ecosystem management that ensures service provisioning?

What is the current state of the different ecosystem services in Israel and what are the trends of change?

In which ways do ecosystem services impact on human existence and well-being, which populations benefit from the different services and what is their geographic distribution?

In which ways can consideration of health and social values of ecosystem services contribute to decision making?

What is the effect of population size, and the level and type of consumption in Israel (merchandise, construction, transport etc.), on the services provided by the different ecosystems?

Which are the ecosystems whose services yield particularly high economic/social/health value?

Which ecosystem services have particularly high economic/social/health value?

Provide details of current effects or possible future effects of different policy and management actions on the provision of different ecosystem services.

What is the contribution of knowledge on the economic value of ecosystem services for decision making related to land-use and natural resource exploitation?

What are the long-term effects of changes in ecosystems and service provisioning on human existence and well-being in Israel?

Variation in ecosystems and the services they provide according to different scenarios.