CANCELLED - Monitoring Ecosystem Services: Standardizing Metrics and Serving Policy
Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
M100EF, Minneapolis Convention Center
In science, policy, resource management and conservation, what we measure wields strong influence over what we understand and how we act. Many monitoring systems are dedicated to tracking the nature and status of elements of the biophysical environment, but they seldom make connections between these environmental metrics and changes in any associated social benefits such as health, security, existence value, or cultural values. Similarly, another set of monitoring systems has been developed to track change in human wellbeing by monitoring health, monetary or development metrics, but few connect any component of these social changes to the environment. Without explicitly identifying and measuring these connections, we have only theory to guide us in understanding how socio-ecological systems work or in determining how a policy decision that causes environmental degradation or improvement may ultimately impact human well-being.
In this symposium, we will show how emerging work on defining and tracking ecosystem service metrics provides a more comprehensive view of links between people and nature. The gaps in our current monitoring systems constrain science and policy from local to global scales, so we will address monitoring approaches at each scale. We will start with two global perspectives; one focusing on the data and metrics needed to track progress towards international agreements (e.g. the CBD) and to inform emerging assessments under the newly established Intergovernmental Policy-Science Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and another describing the newly launched Ocean Health Index as an example of how to align marine ecosystem service metrics with policy and science needs. Moving to the national scale, we will review what has been learned in the development of national ecosystem service indicators in South Africa, and discuss the relevance of these indicators to other countries. Drilling down to the local scale, a case study will demonstrate the kinds of ecosystem service metrics local marine managers find useful in practice. A second demonstration of local approaches to monitoring will detail several ongoing efforts to standardize in-situ observations of ecosystem services such as water quality regulation, carbon storage and sequestration, erosion control and crop pollination. Finally, we will end with a synthetic framework for standardizing measurements of ecosystem service tradeoffs and bundles, with examples of how data on multiple services, collected at multiple scales, can be synthesized and interpreted to inform both our scientific understanding of multi-service interactions and their significance to policy contexts across scales.