Publications

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: Testing General Model Adaptability

This case study, a companion to Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: NOAA and NERRS Salt Marsh Habitat Restoration summarizes initial efforts to apply a general salt marsh ecosystem services conceptual model to specific sites. This case study discusses efforts to test whether a generalized model can be adapted to specific sites, noting considerations that arise and revisions that should be made to a general model applied to a particular site. This case study is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: NOAA and NERRS Salt Marsh Habitat Restoration

This report provides an illustrative ecosystem services conceptual model for salt marsh restoration at National Estuarine Research Reserve sites. The model captures the potential outcomes of a salt marsh habitat restoration. An accompanying evidence library provides a summary of the evidence for each relationship in the model and an assessment of the strength of that evidence. This report is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Building Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models

Funders and developers of infrastructure projects and businesses and managers overseeing critical natural resources are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in ecosystem services. Quick, simple, transparent, and low-cost ways for incorporating these services into decisions are just now under development. One tool that can support widespread implementation is ecosystem services conceptual models. This report facilitates development and use of such 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.

Leveraging Big Data Towards Functionally-Based, Catchment Scale Restoration Prioritization

To address limitations to stream and wetland restoration projects, there is a critical need for a functionally-based, high-resolution restoration priority system that can be implemented at broad spatial scales to maximize ecological benefits. This article in the journal Environmental Management describes the River Basin Restoration Prioritization tool developed in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to incorporate data models into a catchment scale restoration prioritization framework. It is designed specifically as a state-wide screening tool that assesses hydrologic, water quality, and aquatic habitat quality conditions with peak flood flow, nitrogen and phosphorus loading, and aquatic species distribution models. Although the application of the tool in this analysis is for the state of North Carolina, the methodology and model datasets are readily applicable to other states or regions to assess a large volume of data to better inform restoration choices.

Achieving the Mid-Century Strategy Goals for Deep Decarbonization in Agriculture and Forestry

The U.S. Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, released in November 2016, calls for the United States to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. A significant portion of those reductions are to come from the forestry and agricultural sectors. Those reductions will be more difficult and more expensive to achieve if the current U.S. forest sink is not maintained and the greenhouse gas impacts of agriculture are not addressed. This working paper seeks to address those two tasks, first, by presenting a cost distribution of various climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices and an analysis of the geographic distribution of such activities in the United States, and second, by offering policy recommendations to achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions.

Ecosystem Services and U.S. Stormwater Planning: An Approach for Improving Urban Stormwater Decisions

This article in the journal Environmental Science and Policy presents an ecosystem services framework for assessing the context-specific needs of decision makers, while considering the strengths and limitations of greenwater infrastructure use in urban stormwater management. It describes multiple dimensions of the planning system, identifies points of intervention, and illustrates two applications of our framework—in Durham, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon. In these case studies, the framework is applied to explicitly consider tradeoffs, thereby assisting planning professionals who are considering implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. The article includes a research agenda that explores opportunities for further evaluations of greenwater infrastructure design, implementation, and maintenance in cities.​

Mapping the Global Distribution of Locally Generated Marine Ecosystem Services: The Case of the West and Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Fisheries

Ecosystem service maps are instrumental for the assessment and communication of the costs and benefits of human-nature interactions. This article in the journal Ecosystem Services proposes an integrated way of assessing and mapping global flows of marine ecosystem services. It proposes a conceptual framework that integrates ecosystem service provision principles with value chain analysis and human well-being assessment methods, while considering the spatial dimension of these components in ecosystem service mapping. It applies this framework to the case of seafood provision from purse seine tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. 

Ecosystem Services and Judge-Made Law: A Review of Legal Cases in Common Law Countries

This article in the journal Ecosystem Services reviews the prevalence and usage of the concept of ecosystem services in American and other common law legal systems. It suggests that this concept is rarely relied on by courts and other adjudicatory bodies. The authors identify several trends in cases discussing ecosystem services and recommend courses of action for environmental agencies and litigants interested in furthering ecosystem services protection through the court systems of common law countries.

Evidence-Based Causal Chains for Linking Health, Development, and Conservation Actions

Sustainability challenges for nature and people are complex and interconnected, such that effective solutions require approaches and a common theory of change that bridge disparate disciplines and sectors. Causal chains offer promising approaches to achieving an integrated understanding of how actions affect ecosystems, the goods and services they provide, and ultimately, human well-being. Although causal chains and their variants are common tools across disciplines, their use remains highly inconsistent, limiting their ability to support and create a shared evidence base for joint actions. This BioScience article presents the foundational concepts and guidance of causal chains linking disciplines and sectors that do not often intersect to elucidate the effects of actions on ecosystems and society. 

Facilitating Markets and Mitigation: A Systematic Review of Early-Action Incentives in the U.S.

Early action refers to activities undertaken prior to a regulatory program or generation of services prior to mitigation of impacts elsewhere. In U.S. environmental markets, early action could reduce lags in environmental performance, improve outcomes, and encourage innovation in mitigation approaches. Multiple tools have emerged for encouraging early action in environmental markets. Several tools have also been deployed in markets, providing valuable insight into their function. This article in Land Use Policy presents a systematic review of early action tools and describes their use in wetland and stream mitigation, species and habitat banking, greenhouse gas mitigation, and water quality trading.