Indicator: Predominant relations in the Green Infrastructure network between ecosystem services

One of the characteristics of green infrastructure is its multifunctionality. Our approach to multifunctionality is based on the definition of certain policy priorities which, in turn, determine which ecosystem services need to be reinforced. A major challenge to promote multifunctionality is the interaction among ecosystem services. Considering all the possible combinations of ES, for each region we have identified which type of relationship is predominant:
- Synergy - a win-win situation that involves a mutual improvement of both ecosystem services. Attention must be paid as a mutual loss can also occur when both ecosystem services decrease.
- Trade-off - a win-lose or lose-win situation that involves losing one ecosystem service in exchange for gaining another one.
- No direct-relation - an improvement or a decline in one ecosystem service implies no obvious changes (increase or decrease) in the second ecosystem service.

In our analysis we considered synergies and trade-offs at NUTS 2/3 level in order to provide relevant information considering the resolution of the data, and to be meaningful for regional management. Analysis considered the three selected policy areas: biodiversity, climate change and disaster risk reduction (CC&DRR), and water management. There are already some attempts to provide pairwise comparison of ES at conceptual level (Kandziora et al., 2013). We have followed the approach described by Jopke et al. (2015) that combines regression analysis with nonparametric statistics (due to the non-linear relations among some of the ES). ES data at NUTS level have been used to identify the type and strength of association among ES.

The indicator is categorical; it has 1 four classes: “1”= Synergies; “2”=Neutral; “3”= Trade-offs; “4”=Trade-offs with low provision.

Theme(s): Environment and Energy - Science and Technology - Territorial Structure - Territorial Structures and Land Use


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ESPON project
  • Gemma Garcia Blanco (Project leader)
Territorial information
Spatial Extent Nomenclature
name version level
EU28 NUTS 2016 2
EU28 NUTS 2016 3
Year Tunit Area GDP Pop
2010 40.5 46 46.5 39


The methodological approach used to analyse synergies and trade-offs follows closely the one described by Jopke et al. (2015). Graphical and correlation analyses were performed to investigate and characterise interactions among ecosystem services (ES). Data sources were the values of ecosystem services per NUTS region (Maps of ecosystem services – MAES working group report published in 2015).). For graphical analysis we used bagplots (Rousseeuw et al., 1999). The bagplot is a bivariate version of the boxplot consisting of a point marking the highest half-space depth, which is labeled the depth median; see Chakraborty and Chaudhuri (2006) for the statistical definition of half-space depth, surrounded by a region (bag) displaying the location of 50% of the data points. The bag is surrounded by a further area called a loop. The boundary of the loop is calculated, as recommended by Rousseeuw et al. (1999), by bloating the bag by a factor of three. All data points outside the loop are outliers. Similar to univariate boxplots, the bivariate bagplots can also be visually interpreted. Important features for general explanation of the data distribution are: the position of depth median, dispersion of values (bag area), correlation (bag direction), distribution asymmetry (bag shape) and outliers (Rousseeuw et al., 1999).
The depth median is taken as a reference point in order to separate the bagplot into four quadrants. The positive/positive space (i.e., both ecosystem services perform well relative to the depth median) is in the upper right of the depth median and the negative/negative one in the lower left, respectively. If the bagplot is oriented from lower left to upper right and thus covering the negative/negative and positive/positive space we assume a synergetic relationship between the two ES. In contrast, a trade-off between ES A and B is expected when the bagplot is oriented along the positive/negative and negative/positive space. If all four spaces are equally covered a neutral relationship is assumed.






Other attributes

Key indicator
Predominant relations in the Green Infrastructure network between ecosystem services
Is standard?
Is base indicator?
Data type
Unit of measure - Numerator / Denominator Name
Unit of measure - Numerator / Denominator Scale
Is a ranking?
Main Theme
Environment and Energy - Science and Technology - Territorial Structure - Territorial Structures and Land Use
Nature type
Name Description
1 Synergies
2 Neutral
3 Trade-offs
4 Trade-offs with no provision