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Get the Science Right When Paying for Nature's Services

Payments for Ecosystem Services mechanisms leverage economic and social incentives to shape how people influence natural processes and achieve conservation and sustainability goals. Beneficiaries of nature's goods and services pay owners or stewards of ecosystems that produce those services, with payments contingent on service provision. Integrating scientific knowledge and methods into Payments for Ecosystem Services is critical. Yet many projects are based on weak scientific foundations, and effectiveness is rarely evaluated with the rigor necessary for scaling up and understanding the importance of these approaches as policy instruments and conservation tools. Part of the problem is the lack of simple, yet rigorous, scientific principles and guidelines to accommodate Payments for Ecosystem Services design and guide research and analyses that foster evaluations of effectiveness. The Nicholas Institute's Lydia Olander, along with other scientists and practitioners from government, nongovernment, academic, and finance institutions, propose a set of such guidelines and principles in a new Science article.

Author(s): S. Naeem, J. C. IngramA. VargaT. AgardyP. BartenG. BennettE. BloomgardenL. L. BremerP. BurkillM. CattauC. ChingM. ColbyD. C. CookR. CostanzaF. DeClerckC. FreundT. GartnerR. Goldman-BennerJ. GundersonD. JarrettA. P. KinzigA. KissA. KoontzP. KumarJ. R. LaskyM. MasozeraD. MeyersF. MilanoL. Naughton-TrevesE. NicholsL. OlanderP. OlmstedE. PergeC. PerringsS. PolaskyJ. PotentC. PragerF. QuétierK. RedfordK. SatersonG. ThoumiM. T. VargasS. VickermanW. WeisserD. WilkieS. Wunder

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Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook

Many of the benefits nature provides to people are poorly accounted for in management decisions because resource managers haven’t had access to materials and tools that support this undertaking. This online-only guidebook developed by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership, federal agencies, and other partners addresses this need. It allows resource managers to better communicate with people about the positive and negative effects of natural resource management decisions. It also helps them explicitly consider how to balance outcomes that matter to people and to avoid unintended consequences.

Editor: Lydia Olander

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Ecosystem Services

Reports

Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services into Decision Making

In a guest editorial for the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Ecosystem Services Program director Lydia Olander and her coauthor identify several efforts to bring consistency to methods for incorporating ecosystem services concepts into environmental decision making, including the National Ecosystem Services Partnership’s Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook.

Author(s): Lydia Olander and Lorraine Maltby

Filters

Ecosystem Services

Journal Articles

Working Together: A call for Inclusive Conservation

An age-old conflict around a seemingly simple question has resurfaced: why do we conserve nature? Contention around this issue has come and gone many times, but in the past several years we believe that it has reappeared as an increasingly acrimonious debate between, in essence, those who argue that nature should be protected for its own sake and those who argue that we must also save nature to help ourselves. Heather Tallis, Jane Lubchenco and 238 co-signatories (including the Nicholas Institute's Lydia Olander) petition for an end to the infighting that is stalling progress in protecting the planet.

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Ecosystem Services

National

Journal Articles

The Most Important Current Research Questions in Urban Ecosystem Services

The urbanized world depends on ecosystem services--both inside and outside of city boundaries. Although investing in their provision will often be more cost-effective than response actions, such as treatment, restoration, and disaster response, ecosystem services do not play a prominent role in the formulation of urban policies, plans, and laws. In fact, many cities are experiencing declines of the ecosystems that sustain them. Halting and reversing these declines requires identification of pressing research needs in the area of urban ecosystem services. This article brings together the collective insights of lawyers, urban planners, ecologists, and economists on the most important research questions that should shape the future of scholarship in this area.

Author(s): James Salzman, Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold, Robert Garcia, Keith H. Hirokawa, Kay Jowers, Jeffrey LeJava, and Lydia P. Olander

Filters

Ecosystem Services

Land

National

Journal Articles

Optimizing the Scale of Markets for Water Quality Trading

Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at a lower cost than requiring facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, a new Duke University led study finds. The scale and type of the trading programs, though critical, may matter less than just getting them started. The analysis in the journal Water Resources Research shows that water-quality trading of any kind can significantly lower the costs of achieving Clean Water Act goals.

Author(s): Martin Doyle, Lauren Patterson, Yanyou Chen, Kurt Schnier, and Andrew Yates

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Science

Water

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Mangrove Ecosystem Services Valuation: State of the Literature

A growing body of literature provides estimates of ecosystem services values derived from mangroves. If this literature is to be useful in decision making, it must have a solid foundation of value estimates. This paper identifies gaps in data and knowledge regarding mangrove ecosystem services valuations and recommends ways that future research could advance understanding of mangrove ecology, ecosystem services valuation, and conservation. 

Authors: Tibor Vegh, Megan Jungwiwattanaporn, Linwood Pendleton, and Brian Murray

Filters

Oceans & Coasts

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Marine

Environmental Economics

Working Papers

Synthesis and Review: Advancing Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Quantification

Reducing emissions of agricultural greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as methane and nitrous oxide, and sequestering carbon in the soil or in living biomass can help reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change while imporving productivity. A new article in a special focus issue of Environmental Research Letters synthesizes the current findings on the state of the capacity for agricultural GHG quantification. It concludes that strategic investment in quantification can lead to significant global improvement in agricultural GHG estimation in the near term.

Author(s): Lydia P. Olander, Eva Wollenberg, Francesco N. Tubiello, and Martin Herold

Filters

Climate & Energy

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

T-AGG

T-AGG International

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Application of an Ecosysem Services Framework for BLM Land Use Planning: Consistency with the Federal Land Policy Management Act and Other Applicable Law

Federal agencies responsible for natural areas are increasingly considering ecosystem services in their planning and management decisions. Operationalizing this new approach entails multiple challenges. To address them, the National Ecosystem Services Partnership launched the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services project, whose participants created an online guidebook providing a framework and methodology to enhance consistency of ecosystem services approaches and describing how federal agencies are exploring or applying the ecosystem services concept. Two papers laid the groundwork for this guidebook: this one and Integration of Ecosystem Services Valuation Analysis into National Environmental Policy Act Compliance: Legal and Policy Perspectives. These papers explain how the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 and the National Environmental Policy Act enable or limit agencies’ incorporation of ecosystem services approaches into federal planning and management processes.

Author: Paul B. Smyth

Filters

Ecosystem Services

Reports

Integration of Ecosystem Services Valuation Analysis into National Environmental Policy Act Compliance: Legal and Policy Perspectives

Federal agencies responsible for natural areas are increasingly considering ecosystem services in their planning and management decisions. Operationalizing this new approach entails multiple challenges. To address them, the National Ecosystem Services Partnership launched the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services project, whose participants created an online guidebook providing a framework and methodology to enhance consistency of ecosystem services approaches and describing how federal agencies are exploring or applying the ecosystem services concept. Two papers laid the groundwork for this guidebook: this one and BLM Land Use Planning: Consistency with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and Other Applicable Law. These papers explain how the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 enable or limit agencies’ incorporation of ecosystem services approaches into federal planning and management processes.

Author: Dinah Bear

Filters

Ecosystem Services

Reports

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