Geographical analysis of ecosystem services

Module code: GY7310
Module co-ordinator: Professor Heiko Balzter

Ecosystems provide vital services to people, ranging from provision of natural resources such as food and timber, to the regulation of flood risk and the cultural values of landscapes.

Many of these services are under intense pressure by human land use and climate change. Geographical methods are important for the assessment of ecosystem services across the world. These include working with spatial data and satellite images.

Topics covered

  • Assessment of ecosystem services
  • The world’s forests and the threat of deforestation
  • Trade-offs of competing ecosystem services
  • Tree plantations in the tropics
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from drained peatlands
  • Agricultural ecosystem services
  • Land degradation and food security
  • Air quality
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and open spatial data


  • 10 one-hour lectures
  • 8 two-hour computer classes
  • 2 tutorials
  • 172 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay (60%)
  • Practical report (40%)