The Division of Conservation Biology, Vegetation Ecology and Landscape Ecology of the University of Vienna, together with the Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), have recently launched the research project “BRIMSEN” (Biosphere Reserve Integrated Monitoring based on Social and Environmental Ecosystem Services). The project is funded through the “Man and the Biosphere” Programme by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and it is developed in cooperation with the Biosphärenpark Wienerwald Management GmbH.
The foundation of the project lies on the concept of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services describe the benefits of nature and landscape for humans, such as the provision of drinking water, space for settlement activity and recreation, habitat for animals and plants, and so on.
The aim of the study is to develop a set of indicators of environmental and social landscape services specifically offered by the open landscape of the Biosphere Reserve Wienerwald, which would support a long-term monitoring of the environmental and social performance of the reserve. In addition, the project intends to set the basis for discussing the trade-offs among the various services.
Data on open habitats, land cover and regional socio-economic parameters will be employed to perform the selection and assessment of the indicators. The expected result of the research project is spatial heterogeneity in the provision of the ecosystem services, in accordance with the heterogeneous essence of the open landscape of the reserve. Indeed, through its many functions, a Biosphere Reserve is able, under the common goal of sustainable regional development, to coordinate common interests of different areas (such as nature conservation, agriculture and recreation). In this sense the study shall allow to get additional scope to promote the sustainable development of the region, to strengthen existing economic structures and to identify and promote new potential.