Assessing the ecosystem services of Berlin's peatlands required the establishment of robust indicators which could be used as basis for a three-level rating, or assessment system. The guiding principle, or top criterion is the almost undisturbed peatland ecosystem, which in regions with surface-near water levels is characterised by either new peat formation or peat preservation. The undisturbed peatland has a variety of ecosystem services on offer, while peatlands that were drained or otherwise heavily affected by human influences cannot provide them, or can only do so at a much lower level.
As an effect of drainage, characteristic soil horizons are developed, the total thickness of which is a crucial parameter in the assessment of a peatland's condition and its current capacity of ecosystem service provision.
The indicators for the ecosystem services are first and foremost based on soil and vegetation characteristics as well as the water level.
Further parameters are their location, the integration in the landscape, their connectivity to open water bodies, and the anthropogenic influence. These parameters were collected by own field, mapping and laboratory work as part of the project, and could in parts be complemented by the evaluation of existing data. A complete overview of the collected parameters for the determination of indicators and the assessment of ecosystem services is given in the table below:
We're sorry that this table's contents are not available in English.
The visualization of the individual ecosystem services has been realised most of the time using a traffic-light rating system. While the colour „green“ here indicates a healthy, or „good condition“, areas marked in „red“ are considered poor – with a high environmental relief potential. „Yellow“ indicates a medium level condition. For the indicators ‚total C storage‘ and ‚flood water retention area‘, illustration by traffic-light rating colours was missed, and colour schemes with a good contrast were chosen instead. For these indicators, only the ‚current state‘ can be rated, and true environmental relief potentials cannot be specified, e.g. the parameters for a shallow peatland (for example, a water rise mire) cannot be transferred to a deep peatland (for example, a kettle-hole mire) with extremely high C values.
The assessment of ecosystem services was carried out for all of the 76 peatlands of Berlin, covering a total area of 741 ha. The method is applicable to all landscapes or regions of comparable characteristics. For the applicability in rural areas, input parameters should be re-evaluated and possibly modified or replaced. Here for example, the filtering function strongly depends on parameters like land use as well as fertilization and only to a lesser extent on a distinct position within a drinking-water supply area.