Simply put, ecosystem services are benefits people receive from nature. An ecosystem services based approach to natural resource management requires connecting nature to people when making management decisions. Though the concept of ecosystem services is not new, the application of ecosystem services concepts to management practices is performed ad hoc, with researchers and managers individually determining how these services are understood, assessed, considered, and measured.
The National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP) was formed over a decade ago to create a national network for sharing ecosystem services information, to establish pathways for implementation of ecosystem services concepts, and to help integrate ecosystem services information into decision-making. In service of these goals, NESP has created a set of resources for the natural resource management community. These resources are meant to establish an ecosystem services framework that is flexible, while being standardized, intuitive, and credible.
These resources are centered on a set of Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models (ESCMs). These ESCMs offer an entry point for incorporating a suite of ecosystem services considerations into a program or project. The models illustrate the way that a management intervention cascades through an ecological system and results in ecosystem services and other human welfare impacts.