Navigation Links
Risks and rewards of quantifying nature's 'ecosystem services'
Date:6/22/2012

How much is a stream worth? Can we put a dollar value on a wetland? Some conservation proponents have moved to establish the economic value of "ecosystem services," the benefits that nature provides to people. The approach translates the beauty and utility of a wetland into pounds of phosphorus removed from agricultural runoff, Joules of heat pulled out of urban wastewater, and inches of floodwater absorbed upstream of riverside communities.

The idea of trading ecosystem services has surged in popularity since the 2005 United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. But not all ecologists are enthusiastic about ecosystem services markets. In a half day symposium at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting this August, experts will discuss the science underlying ecosystem services and the benefits and pitfalls for conservation.

"If you don't put a dollar on it, decision makers are not going to take it seriously," says symposium speaker Bobby Cochran, Executive Director of the Willamette Partnership. He says framing a natural system as an economic good puts it into a context where decision makers recognize its value. Reframing conservation in terms of benefits to people helps break down old stalemates between conservation advocates and other economic interests.

"Natural ecosystems provide us with numerous services, not all of which are easily quantified," says symposium organizer Emily Bernhardt of Duke University. "A challenge inherent in new ecosystem service markets is ensuring that commodifying one or more services doesn't lead to unintended consequences for non-target ecosystem attributes." Critics would prefer to invest comprehensively in the maintenance of ecosystems, with the understanding that people extract benefits from these resources that may not be easily captured by economic instruments.

Bernhardt has recruited a slate of speakers with opposing views on the effectiveness of compartmentalizing nature into economic services with monetary values. To stir debate, she will push speakers to address tendentious questions, including:

  • What variables have you measured as proxies for ecosystem services? How well do they match? Where are the uncertainties?
  • How do you choose which ecosystem services to include in your analyses, and which to leave out?
  • How does maximizing the profitability or effectiveness of one aspect of an ecosystem affect other essential ecosystem properties particularly those that are more difficult to quantify?

Cochran has run into these hard choices on projects for the Willamette Partnership, where he has to balance the complexity of ecosystems against clarity of implementation. "Our biggest enemy in the conservation field is lack of trust and credibility," he says. "The more complicated a program is to implement, the harder it is to breed trust and credibility."

Trust and credibility also grows from good experiences with programs that produce what they promise. Successful development of markets in ecosystem services, says Cochran, requires a sound understanding of the ecological systems in play, and the research that can provide that understanding. "There's just so much about ecosystems that we do not know. Ecosystems are changing dynamically, and the pace of change is increasing," he says. "If we don't have good science, none of this stuff works."


'/>"/>

Contact: Liza Lester
llester@esa.org
202-833-8773 x211
Ecological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Updated DHS report on risks of proposed Kansas biocontainment lab
2. Growing risks from hatchery fish
3. Culturally sensitive research in United Arab Emirates pinpoints indoor air quality risks
4. How the ecological risks of extended bioenergy production can be reduced
5. Increasing water scarcity in Californias Bay-Delta will necessitate trade-offs; hard decisions needed to balance various environmental risks
6. Report presents designs for study of cancer risks near US nuclear facilities
7. Reproductive health providers should discuss environmental exposure risks with patients
8. Biosignatures distinguish between tuberculosis and sarcoidosis
9. Epigenetic signatures direct the repair potential of reprogrammed cells
10. Consortium of scientists maps the human bodys bacterial ecosystem
11. Wildfire and an example of its important link to the ecosystem
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/6/2017)... RAM Group , Singaporean based ... in biometric authentication based on a novel  ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based on ... Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will have ... and security. Ram Group is a next generation ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... Calif. , April 13, 2017 UBM,s ... York will feature emerging and evolving technology ... Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo portion ... speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics ... largest advanced design and manufacturing event will take place ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Florida , April 11, 2017 ... a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors ... Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s ... ... of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and benefiting ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2017)... DC, USA (PRWEB) , ... May 23, 2017 , ... ... economy as well as an enabler of life-saving medical and other vital technologies — ... photonics . They joined others in the scientific community today in responding to the ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... ... unlimited source of human cardiovascular cells for research and the development of ... it possible to generate large numbers of cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs). Due to varying ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... , ... May 23, 2017 , ... ... advanced technology applications, has announced a facility expansion to accommodate its rapid growth. ... feet of new workspace and renovation of the existing areas. The expansion includes, ...
(Date:5/22/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... May 22, 2017 , ... Stratevi, a ... expanded to the East Coast. It has opened an office in downtown Boston at ... are finding it increasingly more important to generate evidence on the value they provide, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: