Bernard Chevassus-au- Louis \ Council on food, agriculture and rural areas
 

In addition to chemical and physical characteristics, water managers must now take into account the quality of aquatic environments and their overall ecological operation. This shift to a much more comprehensive view requires assessment of ecological services to justify the funding of the action programme. This concept is a means to enable dialogue and ensure fairness in that it can be used to select the most important services for a policy. But will the concept of supply and demand not result in impacts on the environment for essentially monetary reasons? There are two standard answers to this vital question, one recommends strong regulations, the other is a more pragmatic approach based on first analysing the costs and benefits of public policies. The best solution would be to combine the contractual approach, e.g. to encourage new types of agriculture, and the pragmatic approach to highlight certain particular services.

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Bernard Chevassus-au-Louis is an inspector-general for the Agriculture ministry and co-author of the book «Assessing the ecological services of aquatic environments. Scientific, political and operational issues».
Jacques Delsalle \ European commission
 

The concept of ecosystem services is occasionally misinterpreted due to its utilitarian vision of nature. But it is necessary to understand that the use of socio-economic arguments is now indispensable if we are to defend and conserve aquatic environments. Assessment of ecosystem services is important to comply with certain WFD requirements, notably to justify exemptions as per article 4. And article 5 requires an economic description of river basins, including an evaluation of the monetary value of water uses. Finally, assessments will facilitate setting suitable levels of fees for water services and evaluating the effectiveness of the selected programmes of measures. But certain fields of knowledge still require work. The European joint research centre is now preparing maps that identify and indicate the value of ecosystem services. Though all aspects are studied, the experts focus their attention on three particular services, namely water retention, flow regulation and purification.

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Jacques Delsalle is a team leader in the «Protection of aquatic resources» unit of the Environment DG of the European commission.