Countrywide mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services

Estonian national MAES project ELME („Establishment of tools for integrating socioeconomic and climate change data into assessing and forecasting biodiversity status, and ensuring data availability”) is in progress, led by the Estonian Environment Agency and the Ministry of the Environment. ELME project (2015/2016–2023) is co-funded by the European Union Cohesion Fund and the national foundation Environmental Investment Centre.


Further links to ELME ecosystem-related works:


Terrestrial ecosystems

           ELME1 – base levels for condition and services (2019–2020)

           ELME2 – socioeconomic mapping (2021–2023)

Marine ecosystem services 



Natural capital accounting development actions are led by the Statistics Estonia and are a joint effort with the ELME project and its subsequent activities.


To test methods for development and implementation of national accounts related to ecosystems and ecosystem services, two EUROSTAT projects have been carried out in Estonia. Results of the first project are available in the 2019 grant report (“Grant Agreement no NUMBER — 831254 — 2018-EE-ECOSYSTEMS. Methodological report. Development of the land account and valuation of ecosystem services regarding grassland ecosystem services”). In the course of the 2020–2021 pilot project (“Grant Agreement 881542— 2019-EE-ECOSYSTEMS – Methodological report. Development of the ecosystem accounts“), the initial results were further adjusted, a more comprehensive list of ecosystems (all terrestrial ecosystems, including urban areas) and the use of ecosystem services were assessed and mapped. The selection of services was based on the road map, but was also influenced by the actual availability of data and also by the opinions of the stakeholders (policy-makers). The current grant works including development of ecosystem accounting were initiated in summer 2021 and are continued until 2023.


National MAES process is related to many previous or ongoing projects and actions, which altogether provide input for decision-making (incl. planning) processes, e.g.:


  • the study of the willingness to pay for protected forests in Estonia (2011);
  • MAES of Kuresoo mire habitats (incl. monetary values) (2011);
  • the study of the willingness to pay of the Estonian working-age population for opening of old river mouths of the River Emajõgi (2012);
  • economic value of ecosystem services of protected forests in Järvselja (2012);
  • countrywide assessment of the total values of Estonian forest ecosystem services in the course of ongoing process of compiling strategy Forest Development Plan (2018);
  • LIFE Viva Grass project (“Integrated planning tool to ensure viability of grasslands”, 2014–2019) focusing on grasslands; among other actions, a web tool to support ecosystem and their services based decision-making process and considering socio-economic factors impacting nature conservation policy was developed during the project;
  • recent MAES works in the framework of the marine spatial planning process;
  • MAES for evaluating the impact of the ecosystem restoration activities to the freshwater ecosystem services in the ongoing project LIFE IP CleanEst;
  • LIFE UrbanStorm (“Development of sustainable and climate resilient urban storm water management systems for Nordic municipalities”, 2018–2023) dealing with urban ecosystems and nature-based solutions, etc.



Last modified: 06.02.2023.