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Notes from the field: Lessons learned from using ecosystem service approaches to inform real-world decisions

Author

Listed:
  • Ruckelshaus, Mary
  • McKenzie, Emily
  • Tallis, Heather
  • Guerry, Anne
  • Daily, Gretchen
  • Kareiva, Peter
  • Polasky, Stephen
  • Ricketts, Taylor
  • Bhagabati, Nirmal
  • Wood, Spencer A.
  • Bernhardt, Joanna

Abstract

While there have been rapid advances in assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES), a critical remaining challenge is how to move from scientific knowledge to real-world decision making. We offer 6 lessons from our experiences applying new approaches and tools for quantifying BES in 20 pilot demonstrations: (1) Applying a BES approach is most effective in leading to policy change as part of an iterative science-policy process; (2) simple ecological production function models have been useful in a diverse set of decision contexts, across a broad range of biophysical, social, and governance systems. Key limitations of simple models arise at very small scales, and in predicting specific future BES values; (3) training local experts in the approaches and tools is important for building local capacity, ownership, trust, and long-term success; (4) decision makers and stakeholders prefer to use a variety of BES value metrics, not only monetary values; (5) an important science gap exists in linking changes in BES to changes in livelihoods, health, cultural values, and other metrics of human wellbeing; and (6) communicating uncertainty in useful and transparent ways remains challenging.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruckelshaus, Mary & McKenzie, Emily & Tallis, Heather & Guerry, Anne & Daily, Gretchen & Kareiva, Peter & Polasky, Stephen & Ricketts, Taylor & Bhagabati, Nirmal & Wood, Spencer A. & Bernhardt, Joanna, 2015. "Notes from the field: Lessons learned from using ecosystem service approaches to inform real-world decisions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 11-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:115:y:2015:i:c:p:11-21
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.07.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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