Work Package 4 - Ecosystem Services

The quantification and evaluation of ecosystem services is the central aspect of work package 4. Ecosystem services are the benefits humans can derive from ecosystems. Regulating services like wave attenuation and erosion resistance in coastal protection are the prime factors, but cultural services such as nature observation and recreation or the interaction of marine ecosystems and agricultural use play an important role, too.

In order to better understand and apply ecosystem services in coastal protection, the effects of plants in the transition from sea to land must be investigated. What is the seasonal pattern of vegetation and what effects does it have on plant characteristics? Under what conditions salt marsh is going to spread and do species- and adaptation-specific plant traits a role in the development? What effects does agricultural use have on the diversity and thus the erosion resistance of the dike?

Answering these and similar questions will help to develop a profound understanding of the individual ecosystem services and, based on this, to develop recommendations for action on how parts of the ecosystem can contribute to multifunctional coastal protection.

Besides the central aspect of coastal protection, the coastal ecosystem contributes to climate regulation by storing carbon in plant material. A salt marsh can accumulate sediment and thus counteract sea-level rise by “growing along” with it. Long-term measurements over the entire project period will allow such slow developments to be studied. Therefore, already established observation methods are combined with new and innovative remote sensing techniques.

The importance and use of marine ecosystems for e.g. leisure, recreation and environmental education is summarized under the term cultural ecosystem services. We investigate which services are provided by the considered coastal areas and how and by whom they are used. The analyses are based on spatial data supplemented by qualitative survey methods. By a joint interdisciplinary consideration of the results for cultural and regulating ecosystem services, trade-offs become visible and synergies or compromises of different measures can be derived.

 In connection with the other work packages, recommendations will be developed on how we can live sustainably and at the same time benefit from ecosystem services.

Core aspects


Maike Paul, Ph.D.
phone: +49 (0) 511 762 2584
fax: +49 (0) 511 762 4002

Ludwig-Franzius Institut for Hydraulic, Estuarine- and Coastal Engineering
Nienburger Straße 4
D-30167 Hannover


Dr.-Ing. Jan Visscher
phone: +49 (0) 511 762 4295
fax: +49 (0) 511 762 4002