What are Ecosystem Services?
Ecosystem services are the suite of environmental goods and services essential to human well-being. These services cover a broad spectrum, ranging from flood control to climate regulation. Society often considers ecosystem services to be free public benefits and does not assign them a value that reflects their societal contribution. By identifying the economic and societal value of ecosystem services, we can protect critical services and compensate for those lost due to environmental impacts. ELI seeks to advance the preservation and maintenance of ecosystem services through compensatory mitigation programs, market-based approaches, and ecosystem-based governance and management frameworks.
What is ELI Doing?
- Compensatory Mitigation — ELI’s Freshwater & Oceans Program advances research on compensatory mitigation, providing citizen groups; local, state, and federal agencies; the public; and the regulated community information on program trends and analyses of federal and state policy. ELI’s research assesses the range of opportunities for directing compensatory mitigation dollars toward the protection of critical wildlife habitat and the services these ecosystems provide.
- Climate Change Adaptation — ELI’s Biodiversity Conservation Program is developing and strengthening laws governing biodiversity management in order to improve adaptation to climate change. Our project, New Approaches for Conserving Biodiversity: Adapting Law and Governance to a Changing Climate, will produce a “Toolkit for Practitioners” that will include a discussion of the role ecosystem service markets can play in climate adaptation efforts.
- Ecosystem Based Management — ELI’s Ocean Program is leading an innovative project to develop tools and methods for implementing ocean and coastal ecosystem-based management (EBM). As an integrative framework for managing human activities across time, space, and sectors, ocean and coastal EBM strives to maintain the full suite of ecosystem services necessary for marine ecosystem health and function.