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Ecologists report quantifiable measures of nature's services to humans
Date:2/2/2009

The idea of ecosystem services is a promising conservation concept but has been rarely put into practice. In a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, researchers use novel tools to report some of the first quantifiable results that place values on nature's services to humans.

"The idea of 'ecosystem services' identifying and quantifying the resources and processes that nature provides for people gives us a framework to measure nature's contribution to human well-being," write authors Peter Kareiva, guest editor for this issue and the chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy, and Susan Ruffo, director of ecosystem services programs at TNC, in an editorial in the issue. "It provides a credible way to link nature and people that goes beyond emotional arguments and points us toward practical solutions."

Some of the best-described ecosystem services include pollination of crops, flood and storm protection, water filtration and recreation. The challenging part is translating these services into something with a measurable value. Economic valuation methods take changes in the supply of ecosystem services and translate these into changes in human welfare.

"In this Special Issue of Frontiers, we have assembled pioneering examples of the quantification of ecosystem services and nascent steps toward turning that quantification into a framework for better land and water management," Kareiva and Ruffo write.

The issue's authors draw on current ecosystem services projects ranging from ranches in the Everglades to North American shorelines to cultural lands in Hawaii.

Novel programs such as the Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project (FRES) are designed to encourage the provisioning of ecosystem services from agricultural lands. These initiatives differ from traditional cost-sharing programs by paying landowners directly for the services their lands already provide, instead of
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Contact: Christine Buckley
christine@esa.org
202-833-8773
Ecological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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