Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Funders and developers of infrastructure projects and businesses and managers overseeing critical natural resources are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in ecosystem services. Although methods for incorporating ecosystem services into decisions have been established through academic research, practical guidance for how to do so in the quick, simple, transparent, and low-cost, feasible ways often required for widespread implementation are just now under development. One tool that can support widespread implementation is the use of ecosystem services conceptual models, which can underpin both simple and complex methods while helping to improve consistency and credibility. These conceptual models link changes caused by an external stressor or intervention through the ecological system to socio-economic and human well-being outcomes. Ecosystem services conceptual models can be developed for any given site and intervention or created as reference models for a general type of intervention across sites. This report facilitates development and use of evidence-based ecosystem services conceptual models in federal decision making by presenting a “how-to” guide and illustrative examples. It is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.