Ecosystem services, environmental stressors and decision making: Results of a global ESA and SETAC workshop
The concept of ecosystem services, the benefits that ecological systems provide to people, provides a useful set of tools for both measuring and communicating about the value of nature. There is increasing awareness that explicit consideration of ecosystem services can improve environmental management. The concept provides a framework for considering whole ecosystems in decision making, for valuing the services they provide, and for ensuring that society can maintain a healthy and resilient natural environment now and for future generations.
A workshop was convened by ESA and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Shepherdstown, WV, at the end of September 2014 to develop: 1) broad consensus about, and practical guidance for, the application of the ecosystem services concept to environmental decision making as part of a movement towards environmental sustainability; and 2) work products in the form of scientific manuscripts, booklets, and presentation materials needed to promote environmental stewardship through application of the ecosystem services concept by the memberships of ESA and SETAC globally, and society more generally.
Thirty participants from academia, government, industry, and nongovernmental organizations around the world worked toward consensus approaches for practical use of ecosystem services in decision making. Individual workgroups considered five main topics: 1) ecosystem services, protection goals and environmental decision making; 2) understanding and applying ecological production functions; 3) applying the ecosystem services concept to risk assessment; 4) applying the ecosystem services concept in natural resource management and restoration; and 5) practical guidance for applying the ecosystem services concept in environmental decision making. This poster will highlight the key findings and recommendations of each workgroup, together with overall recommendations for improving the use of ecosystem services in decision making. Detailed descriptions of workshop results will be published in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and other venues.