In November 2017, the ARIES team in Bilbao organized a follow-up course on the ARIES ecosystem services model and integrated semantic modelling. From the perspective of an ecosystem services researcher who participated in the International Spring University on Ecosystem Services Modelling 2014, it was extremely interesting to see how the team’s work has moved forward in the past several years and what the plans for the future are.

Two aspects seemed very important and taking shape during the past few years:

  1. First, ARIES models aim at twofold audiences: researchers interested in building own models, and general users requiring ready-to-use ES modelling outputs. For the first group, ARIES provides a modelling platform k.LAB (developed for semantic modelling), which model developers can benefit from and co-create by contributing to a crowd-sourced pool of models. For the second group, the ARIES team is developing a web-based platform, which will allow users to get immediate answers regarding ecosystem services provision without having to deal with learning how to use models and how to process data.
  2. Second, ARIES represents an implementation of a broader endeavor to build a semantic meta-modelling platform for integrated modelling, which might ultimately allow to connect existing models and data from multiple fields and subjects based on their meaning and logical links. Although this might feel as a distant issue for ecosystem services modellers and researchers at this point, it vastly contributes to the agenda of social-ecological systems thinking and sustainability science.

In sum, the ARIES follow-up course was an excellent opportunity to engage with the ARIES developers and see the platform’s current applications (e.g. from South Africa, Japan, etc.). Personally, I have largely benefited from discussions regarding multiple current conceptualizations of ecosystem services and how they can be linked to and operationalized by the ARIES modelling framework (e.g. natural capital accounting and SEEA-EEA), and how I can use ARIES in my own work related to ecosystem services modelling.

Zuzana Harmackova,

Postdoctoral researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre and CzechGlobe

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