Ecosystem Services Program Focal Areas

National Ecosystem Services Partnership

The National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP) engages both public and private individuals and organizations to enhance collaboration within the ecosystem services community and to strengthen coordination of policy and market implementation and research at the national level. NESP is an initiative of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and was developed with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and with donations of expertise and time from many public and private institutions.

Making Environmental Markets Work

One of the main focuses of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is to find ways to protect and restore ecosystems and the many services they provide. One way the Ecosystem Services Program is fulfilling this goal is through voluntary and compliance based environmental markets. The Program currently has a number of environmental markets projects centered on agricultureforestrycoastal habitats.

Efficient and Sustainable Agricultural Production

Agricultural production must continue to rise to meet the demands of a growing global population. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions explores how this can be achieved while also reducing negative environmental consequences to water quality and climate.

Improving Endangered Species Management

Nationwide, several hundred species are being evaluated for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Research at the Nicholas Institute is exploring whether effective pre-compliance could be the key to recovery for a number of species while demonstrating the promise of multi-species management.

Urban Policy and Planning

Increasingly, city governments are facing major costs for maintaining water infrastructure and water quality. Through a series of interconnected and multidisciplinary working groups, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is exploring new ideas, approaches, and governance models involved in integrating ecosystem services proactively in the urban and regional planning and policy processes. The project also explores the potential for the new concepts to result in better environmental and social outcomes.

Protecting and Restoring Watersheds

Healthy watersheds provide habitats for wildlife, clean drinking water, resilient coastal fisheries and communities, and a setting for recreational activities. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is exploring innovative and traditional approaches to address watershed challenges, including sediment and nutrient pollution and degraded or impaired habitats.