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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


September-October 2010

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Ecosystem Services: How People Benefit from Nature

What do the blue jeans you wear, the hamburger you have for lunch, and the sheet you make your bed with have in common? They all take copious amounts of water to produce. One pair of blue jeans takes 2,900 gallons or about 78 bathtubs of water. Even your morning cup of coffee takes 37 gallons (about one bathtub) of water—not just the one cup you consume.1 But we don't pay for all the water that goes into our morning cup of coffee. The price of the coffee is based on production and transportation costs (among other costs), but it's much more difficult to value where all the water in one cup of coffee comes from. This difficulty arises from the fact that natural ecosystems are responsible for the retention, release, and regulation of water, but how does a person value a natural ecosystem and the services it provides and put that into the cost of a cup of coffee?

Caption: Your morning cup of coffee takes 37 gallons (about one bathtub) of water to produce—not just the one cup you consume.

Ecosystem services, or the benefits that nature provides to people,2 have, in the past decade or two, become a growing focus for the conservation movement, both its science and its policy; see, for example, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment,3 the launching of The Ecosystem Marketplace (, DIVERSITAS (see, among many others. Usesand definitions of ecosystem services vary, but in general, ecosystem services help demonstrate the link between people and nature and the interdependence of our lives on ecosystem-based processes that create the products we need and use every day. Some examples of ecosystem services are water purification, water retention, soil fertility, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection, among many others.

What are some examples of how ecosystem services are already a part of our lives, how might ecosystem service considerations change daily decisions, and why is this behavior change important? In this article, I answer these questions using three examples—pollination services, flood and natural disaster protection services, and water services—to illustrate the interrelationship between nature and people. With each example I provide a policy or personal decision-making context into which this link could be relevant and/or could lead to a different choice or behavior.

I do this for three reasons. First, I want to introduce the concept of ecosystem services in a more tangible way to demonstrate that ecosystem services are not just relevant to academics and conservation practitioners but to everyone. Second, I want to demonstrate the impact that behaviors and choices have on service provision. Finally, I want to underscore the importance of ecosystem services for a sustainable future and how, by fully considering the tradeoffs associated with daily choices, people can, with small changes, make a potentially large difference. I conclude by illustrating some programs, policies, and reports that have truly enveloped this approach and demonstrate the large impact the “ecosystem services movement” can have on our future. First, however, I begin with some general background about ecosystem services and their importance to sustainable development and to conservation.

Why Are Ecosystem Services Important for Sustainable Development?

The human population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, and with that increase will come a greater demand for many natural resources. Look at freshwater needs, for example. Research has estimated per person per day dietary needs of 2,000–5,000 liters of water, and this does not include water needed for cleaning and other activities.4 Hand in hand with this growing demand for resources is the conversion of native ecosystems to meet growing needs; this is where a tradeoff assessment in terms of ecosystem services might be useful.

Agricultural and pasture lands represent about 40 percent of global land surface.5 If people continue to depend on agricultural products as they have in the past, then by 2050, scholars estimate that 109 hectares of natural ecosystems will be converted to agriculture. This conversion would include a 2.4–2.7-fold increase in nitrogen- and phosphorus-driven eutrophication of numerous waters with similar increases in pesticide use.6 Agriculture already accounts for 70 percent of water withdrawals from lakes, rivers, and aquifers.7

Caption: Agricultural and pasture lands represent about 40 percent of global land surface. If people continue to depend on agricultural products as they have in the past scholars estimate that by 2050, 109 hectares of natural ecosystems will be converted to agriculture.

This dependence and use pattern we have with our land is no different in the oceans. One clear example is oysters. Oysters have been consumed for sustenance for millennia. Reports from the 1800s in England indicate that in one year, 700 million European flat oysters were consumed, a process that employed about 120,000 people.8 In the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of the United States, oyster reefs used to extend for miles. By the 1940s, these reefs had largely disappeared.9 This is, sadly, true of many ocean creatures, and it underscores our dependence on nature and how a growing demand can affect nature's ability to support itself and us.

We are at a critical juncture. Making choices that can benefit both us and nature may be our best option for securing our livelihoods. Ecosystem services provide a means for people to understand the link between their choices and the natural world. But what exactly are ecosystem services, and how does nature “create” these services? It is to the answers of these questions that I now turn.

What Are Ecosystem Services?

Underlying all the resources we use, the species we see, and the foods we eat are ecosystem processes: the biological, chemical, and physical interactions between components of an ecosystem (e.g., soil, water, species).10 These processes produce benefits to people in the form of clean water, carbon sequestration, and reductions in erosion, among others. These benefits are ecosystem services.11 The ability of nature to help filter, regulate the release of, and capture and store water allows us to wear blue jeans, drink coffee, and eat a hamburger, but we rarely think about the true origin of the products we use every day.

The distinction between ecosystem process, services, and goods is one that has received a lot of attention in the literature.12 The key points emerging from these discussions are that ecosystem processes create our natural world. Ecosystem services are the link between this natural world and people, that is, the specific processes that benefit people. (There can be processes that are not services if there is no person to value that particular process.) Ecosystem goods are created from processes and services and are the tangible, material products we are familiar with, but again the distinction between goods and services is complicated and interrelated.13

The appeal of ecosystem services for conservation is the connection to people and people's well-being and how that appeal translates into new and increased interest in conservation across a wide range of resource management issues.14 Ecosystem services can provide a means to value people's well-being in conservation projects and can help advance a set of on-the-ground actions that are equitable, just, and moral.15 Ecosystem services can be a basis for sustainable development by providing a means to think through how to retain our natural resources for people and for nature with a growing population and therefore an ever-increasing demand for them.

Ecosystem services, since they are the benefits from nature, are often discussed in the context of conservation, but in our daily lives we make choices that depend on and affect flows of services from nature, since all goods and products we use today originate from nature and its services. Each choice we make—drive or ride a bus, buy organic or buy regular vegetables, turn on the heat or put on an extra sweatshirt—has tradeoffs. Conserving nature or converting nature does too, but tradeoffs associated with nature's values are often harder to assess. Not understanding nature's role in the products we use means we won't conserve nature sufficiently; this in turn will compromise our ability to access products we need, or we will have to find sometimes costly alternatives for what nature could otherwise provide to us. Incorporating the full suite of costs and benefits into decision-making means evaluating all costs and benefits associated with nature, too. Economists refer to this full valuation as shadow pricing, but even an informal, “back-of-the envelope” calculation of all values can help to illustrate the importance of ecosystem services in our daily lives.

Ecosystem services help connect people to nature and allow us to make more informed decisions by underscoring all the component pieces of the products we value. How might considering these multiple cost and benefit streams alter people's behaviors? How are people's daily choices linked to ecosystem services? I provide concrete examples to answer these questions.

How might ecosystem services change which products we purchase at the supermarket?

To provide a more tangible understanding of the behind-the-scene trade-offs affecting choices we make, I will use the example of pollination services from native pollinators supported by natural ecosystems. In 2006, around the world there was a great deal of news and concern about the sudden and extreme disappearance of the honey bee, Apis mellifera,16 due to colony collapse disorder (CCD). The disappearance of the honey bee would have catastrophic financial outcomes, since it is the most economically valuable pollinator worldwide.17 About 90 percent of commercially grown field crops, citrus and other fruit crops, vegetables, and nut crops currently depend on honey bee pollination services. These crops in the United States are valued at $15–20 billion18 and include Pennsylvania's apple harvest, which is the fourth largest in the nation with an estimated worth of about $45 million per year and California's almond harvest, which accounts for 80 percent of the world's market share of almonds.19

The honey bee most common in the United States is native to Europe, and many of the crops pollinated by honey bees today such as watermelon, almonds, blackberries, and raspberries, among others, could be pollinated by bees native to the landscape (often more efficiently), allowing an ecosystem to generate these important services rather than having to import honey bees from elsewhere.20 Bees generally require food (flower pollen) and habitat (native vegetation) to survive in a landscape. In addition, bees do not fly great distances, so they require patches of native habitat they can easily fly between.21 The good news is that studies have shown that retaining even small patches of native habitat provides native bees a home and best promotes pollination ecosystem services.22 If, however, we can ship bees in to provide pollination, why should farmers or the general public care if we eliminate native landscapes and their native pollinators?

Caption: About 90 percent of commercially grown field crops, citrus and other fruit crops, vegetables, and nut crops currently depend on honey bee pollination services that in some cases could readily be provided by native pollinators living in natural ecosystems.

One good reason to care is that using nature to provide services can reduce costs for farmers,23 since wild bee pollinators can be as efficient as managed bees.24 Farmers wouldn't have to pay the costs of transporting and caring for honey bees to successfully produce their crops. In a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, for example, Ricketts et al.25 found that services from wild pollinators living in native rainforest patches embedded in the coffee farm were worth $60,000/year, and this is just one service provided by the forest. Other services such as carbon sequestration, soil stabilization, flood mitigation, and water purification could also have added value for the farmer (soil stabilization), for other people in the region (water purification and flood mitigation), and for people around the world (carbon sequestration). Loss of this rainforest, thus, has equivalent costs to society. Yet, right now, despite the plethora of studies that demonstrate which farming practices can greatly impact native bee populations, either encouraging their survival or leading to their demise,26 many coffee farms depend on the honey bee and not wild pollinators for crop production, making them very vulnerable to extreme consequences of honey bee decline.27 Why?

Caption: The price of the coffee grown on farms like this one in Kona, Hawaii, is based on production and transportation costs (among other costs), but it's much more difficult to value where all the water in one cup of coffee comes from.

The use of native pollinators for crop pollination is not ubiquitous, because this ecosystem service does not come without tradeoffs. Keeping patches of native vegetation on an agricultural landscape means less space for crop production and potentially a reduction in yield. Changing farming practices might mean changing machinery or learning new techniques, which can take time and might have other associated costs. As with any change in practice, there is a risk, and just as consumers have an incentive to buy the least costly vegetables in the market so they can save more money, farmers have an incentive to produce crops as cheaply as possible. Changes in practices sometimes include large, upfront costs that are not offset by benefits or not offset immediately enough, even if in the long run production costs are actually less.

As alluded to, there are tradeoffs associated with destroying native ecosystems and therefore eliminating pollination services. What if more crises occur such as the CCD outbreak leading to further loss of honey bees, and suddenly the cost of importing and keeping these bees becomes unsustainable? Keeping patches of natural ecosystems on the landscape can support a diversity of bee species, making pollinators less vulnerable to being completely annihilated by one disease. What if it would be cheaper to restore some cropland now to ensure some native pollinators are retained, since studies show native bee communities might be an insurance policy in the event of honey bee decline?28 Who should have to pay for these costs? Should consumers pay $.50 more for a cup of coffee, for example, to help offset potential upfront costs to farmers for using ecosystem pollination services?

According to the soon to be released United Nations TEEB report, conserving nature and ecosystem services might be 10–100 times more valuable than the cost of saving the habitats and species associated with the provision of the services; this demonstrates the potentially major impact of including nature's values.29 As consumers, it might cost us more at first to buy coffee pollinated by native bees, but in the long run it might be much less costly. This matters for policy, too. For example, should the U.S. farm bill provide financial incentives for farmers to continue growing crops as we do traditionally, or should it subsidize the same crops but provide additional incentives to farmers to restore patches of native habitat to secure native pollination services in appropriate cases? These types of questions not only get at the complexities associated with ecosystem services and how to extract their exact value (how do you know how much extra to charge on the cup of coffee?), but also underscore the importance of broadening our understanding of all the tradeoffs associated with our everyday choices.

How might ecosystem services save your life or affect the house you buy?

As with the food we buy in the market, the houses and property we buy may be more or less valuable depending on the impact we have on nature. Nature can provide services that help to mitigate or at least diminish some potentially catastrophic impacts from weather events. Perhaps the most recent and often discussed example of this is the value that mangrove ecosystems have in protecting against coastal flooding and storms. These protection services can enhance or detract from the value of coastal property, and in the case of severe storms like tsunamis, can help save people's lives.

Caption: Mangrove ecosystems, like this one in the Florida Keys, are some of nature's most effective protections against coastal flooding and storms.

Mangroves are coastal forest systems and make up about 0.4 percent of the world's forests. They are among the most endangered ecosystems on the planet, yet they are frequently cleared so people can make use of the space they occupy for rice paddies, shrimp farms, or other productive activities. Mangroves provide numerous ecosystem services to people, including nurseries for the young of about 30 percent of commercial fishes, coastal protection to prevent erosion and loss of coastal lands, carbon sequestration that helps to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, waste processing, food production, recreation, and protection against large storm surges.30 For example, a recent study31 demonstrated that larger mangrove ecosystems led to significantly greater fish catches without having to increase fishing efforts.

Perhaps one of the most significant, yet undervalued, services from mangroves is their ability to help reduce damage caused by tsunamis and tropical storms.32 Das and Vincent33 demonstrated that mangrove forests can save lives in the context of large storms like the tsunami of 1999. Even the minimal coverage of mangroves around coastal villages in India reduced the death toll by one-third Das and Vincent took the study one step further and estimated that the mangroves could have sold for about $67 million (total of 44,000 acres), but their value in terms of life saving services was at least $80 million. Prior to the tsunami, these life saving services may not have been valued, and the consequences could have been grave.

Coastal protection is another important ecosystem service provided by mangroves, which can have important implications for a more basic choice: whether or not to buy a house. Property values are assessed based on a wide range of factors including taxes, location, views, noise pollution, etc., but without factoring in ecosystem services, or the lack thereof, one might pay an inappropriate amount for a house. For example, coastal properties are often the most costly because they have lovely views. If the coastal areas have coral reefs or mangroves, this is no less true; however, through destructive fishing practices and/or overuse, many of these reefs and forests are being destroyed. What once may have been prime real estate right on the water is now a home that is threatened with destruction at any time since it can be easily flooded by a strong storm surge or the ground below it could erode away. The loss of protective ecosystem services from the natural ecosystems may actually mean the coastal home you just bought was vastly overpriced.

Again, the choices are not so black and white. Denying poor coastal communities' access to mangroves for income purposes has costs, just as preserving the mangroves has benefits for human lives. Tradeoffs must be evaluated, and the range of costs and benefits must be included, but without accounting for ecosystem services values, you can't be sure if you should buy the coastal home or if you should cut down the mangroves to be able to sell more fish. More broadly, governments can't assess what policies might be needed to secure the well-being of their citizens. For example, should the Philippine or Indian governments regulate mangrove cutting more stringently while channeling funds into providing incentives to poor coastal dwellers to compensate them for lost income and further decrease the threat to mangrove systems?

What do ecosystem services mean for the water you drink?

People rely on clean, regular supplies of water for survival, whether for drinking or for the production of other goods and services (agriculture, electricity, etc.). Water users have an incentive to find the lowest cost options for accessing clean water. Interestingly, nature may provide the lowest-cost, longest-term means of providing such water services. Conservationists are increasingly recognizing the value in thinking about these low-cost approaches for financing conservation. Demonstrating the links between nature and people is a way to engage new stakeholders in conservation34 and potentially find new ways to finance activities.

Increasing numbers of case studies and research studies are emerging about the benefits of payment for ecosystem service approaches as a means to finance conservation.35 While there is still uncertainty about what factors are likely to contribute to successful ecosystem service projects,36 these approaches continue to proliferate. Payments for watershed service projects make up a significant portion of implemented ecosystem services schemes (many others relate to carbon). These schemes often involve water users paying “suppliers” for the delivery of clean, consistent water supplies.37 Using a payment for watershed services approach, called “water funds,” developed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and several partners, I will provide a tangible example of an ecosystem services approach that has changed the way users are securing access to water.

Water funds are a public/private partnership focused around a long-term, sustainable finance source for conservation. The partnership determines how to fund conservation of the watershed in order to protect valuable biodiversity and to generate vital water services (namely a clean, regular supply of water) upon which large groups of downstream people depend. For context, water funds are proliferating throughout the Andean region of South America, particularly in Colombia and Ecuador though they are not only in this region. The headwaters of important rivers originate in higher altitude natural ecosystems (composed of native grasslands, páramo, and mixed forest) that serve as the hydrologic regulators for the entire water system.

Caption: Water runs past a village in Parque Ecológico Cachaco in Amaguaña, Ecuador.

The problems in these Andean systems are three-fold: growing populations of downstream users require increased flows of services, the natural ecosystems that provide the services are not sufficiently protected, and the human communities that threaten the natural ecosystems are poor and depend upon these ecosystems for their livelihoods. In addition, their land use practices can have their own consequences for service provision, as farming and ranching can lead to reduced water retention and increased water pollution. But, water services can't be preserved solely by keeping people out of the natural areas and restoring the working landscapes, as this would compromise many livelihoods. Using an ecosystem services framework, TNC and partners used the dependence of downstream people on the services provided by natural ecosystems and restored working landscapes to finance conservation and livelihood projects to secure water services sustainably.

In a water fund, water users voluntarily invest money in a trust fund, and the revenue (interest and sometimes part of the principal) from it is used to finance conservation projects in the watershed, which are decided upon by the public/private partnership of users and key stakeholders that oversee the fund. These projects take steps to address the needs of preserving natural ecosystems and maintaining the well-being of watershed communities. Activities and projects can include hiring community-based park guards to maintain the natural areas (to maintain the natural hydrologic regulation of the system, which helps maintain a regular base flow), protecting riparian areas (putting fences up to keep crops and cows away from river banks), re-vegetating riparian areas (to provide a natural filter for sediments and other pollutants), planting live tree fences to delineate property boundaries, and isolating/fencing off headwaters and steep slopes. These practices can have major impacts on water quality, on the timing and volume of water flows (particularly floods), on fires, and on freshwater biodiversity. One study demonstrated that just maintaining natural vegetation on the landscape can decrease sedimentation tenfold compared with converting the area to cropland.38

Such management is not without costs, however, and thus the water fund not only finances conservation management projects but also supports community projects to compensate for impacts on livelihoods. Ideally, conservation management activities will enhance farm/ranch productivity through the production of on-farm ecosystem services such as soil stabilization and enhanced soil fertility, but these benefits will not be immediate and are not guaranteed. In the shorter term, conservation management agreements include livelihood investments such as environmental education programs, additional income sources such as guinea pig farms, alternative food sources such as organic vegetable gardens, and expanded capacity for the production of goods such as providing communities with ovens to make the drying of fruit and herbs they sell on the market more efficient and effective.

Caption: June 2010 – Pichincha Province, Ecuador. School children from Sangolqui participate in activities designed to teach them about the environment at Parque Ecológico Cachaco in Amaguaña. Administered by Fundacion Ecológica JASDUC, the park includes watershed restoration for the Río San Pedro.

In this case, taking an ecosystem services approach meant being holistic and recognizing that the downstream users of water have an incentive to find the lowest cost option for continued access to clean water and that nature can provide that service potentially more cheaply and for longer than built infrastructure. The premise of water funds, therefore, is that securing natural ecosystems and improving management of farms and ranches in the watershed will help to ensure users have clean water available to them year round, and in return for these services, users pay for the upstream conservation management. This approach has had tremendous replication success in this region of South America, with the implementation of seven water funds in the last decade serving cities with combined populations of over 11 million people and helping protect over 1.6 million hectares of land.39

How Are Ecosystem Service Approaches Being Leveraged?

The last five years have seen the proliferation of ecosystem services strategies, not just in on–the-ground actions but also in the emergence of new offices, new projects, and new strategies within conservation NGOs, governments, and multilateral donor agencies. This increased attention started with books such as The New Economy of Nature40and interdisciplinary scholarly investigations such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) demonstrating the ecosystem alternatives to resource problems. The MA was called for by the United Nations secretary general in 2000 as a way to assess the impact of ecosystem change on human well-being including a scientific assessment of how to increase the conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems to secure well-being. Over 1,360 scholars worldwide collaborated on the study publishing the findings in five technical volumes and six synthesis reports (see for more information).

The concept has now been integrated into funding criteria by donor agencies. The World Bank, for example, has an entire strategy dedicated towards developing payment for environmental services (see In addition, one of the major donor programs of the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has developed a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) to provide guidance on the evaluation of environmental service projects that are seeking funding, since these types of projects are becoming increasingly popular for achieving development and conservation objectives (see This attention from the development community is a clear link between ongoing conservation efforts and efforts to help enhance global development.

Beyond multilaterals, governments are also paying more attention to the benefits of nature to people. This attention may be best illustrated by the relatively recent formation of an entire office in the U.S. government's Department of Agriculture that is dedicated to catalyzing new markets for ecosystem services (see This Office of Environmental Markets was formed in 2008 and aims to help support farm bill programs in the U.S., which can have significant benefits for service provision throughout the country.

There is also a growing and rapidly evolving focus on ecosystem services by conservation nonprofits. Organizations such as Conservation International, TNC, and WWF are changing their missions and/or developing projects that focus on integrating people and nature.41 New partnerships, notably, the Natural Capital Project—a partnership between Stanford University, TNC, and WWF—are being created to provide tools (see to map the flow of various services in geographies around the world and to help more effectively include natural capital in decision-making.

Finally, there is recognition across government, particularly recently by the German Federal Ministry and the European Commission, with other partners, of the importance of making sure we include the true costs of lost biodiversity and associated ecosystem services on our future. In an effort to fully understand the benefits nature has for people's well-being, this group commissioned the TEEB report to sharpen awareness, help facilitate creation of cost-effective policies, and help make better informed decisions (e.g., see Jowit 2010).42

Over the next decade, measuring the impact of ecosystem service–based approaches both on people's well-being and also on nature is critical. Understanding which activities and actions yield a particular outcome and at what cost will provide us with a more evidence-based suite of options for making informed choices in our daily lives.

1. National Geographic, “Water: Our Thirsty World,” National Geographic 217, No. 4 (2010).

2. G. Daily, Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1997).

3. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: A Framework for Assessment (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005).

4. Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, Water for Food, Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture (London: Earthscan, and Colombo: International Water Management Institute, 2007).

5. J.A. Foley, R. DeFries, G.P. Aner, C. Barford, G. Bonan, S.R. Carpenter, F.S. Chapin, M.T. Coe, G.C. Daily, H.K. Gibbs, J.H. Helkowski, T. Holloway, E.A. Howard, C.J. Kucharik, C. Monfreda, J.A. Patz, I.C. Prentice, N. Ramankutty, P.K. Snyder, “Global Consequences of Land Use,” Science 309 (2005): 570–574

6. D. Tilman, J. Fargione, B. Wolff, C. D'Antonio, A. Dobson, R. Howarth, D. Schindler, W. H. Schlesinger, D. Simberloff, and D. Swackhamer, “Forecasting Agriculturally Driven Global Environmental Change,” Science 292 (2001): 281–284.

7. World Water Assessment Programme. The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World (Paris: UNESCO, and London: Earthscan, 2009).

8. C. L. MacKenzie, V. G. Burrell Jr., A. Rosenfield, and W. L. Hobart, The History, Present Condition and Future of the Molluscan Fisheries of North and Central America and Europe, Volume 3: Europe (Seattle: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1997).

9. H. Woods, W. J. Hargis Jr., C. H, Hershner, and P. Mason, “Disappearance of the Natural Emergent 3Dimensional Oyster Reef System of the James River, Virginia 1871–1948,” Journal of Shellfish Research 24 (2005): 139–142.

10. J. Boyd and S. Banzhaf, “What are Ecosystem Services? The Need for Standardized Environmental Accounting Units,” Ecological Economics 63 (2007): 616–626.

11. Daily, note 2.

12. Daily, note 2; Boyd and Banzhaf, note 9; R. Costanza, R. d'Arge, R. de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon et al. “The Value of the World's Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital,” Nature 387 (1997): 253–260; R. S. de Groot, M. A. Wilson, and R. M. J. Boumans, “A Typology for the Classification, Description and Valuation of Ecosystem Functions, Goods and Services,” Ecological Economics 41, no. 3 (2002): 393–408; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, note 3; T. Brown, J. C. Bergstron, and J. B. Loomis, “Ecosystem Goods and Services: Definitions, Valuation and Provision,” Discussion Paper, (U.S. Forest Service, 2006)

13. S. Banzhaf and J. Boyd, “The Architecture and Measurement of an Ecosystem Services Index,” Discussion Paper 05–22, (Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 2005); Boyd and Banzhaf, note 9.

14. W. Reid, “Nature: The Many Benefits of Ecosystem Services,” Nature 443 (2006): 749; R. L. Goldman, H. Tallis, P. Kareiva, and G. C. Daily, “Field Evidence That Ecosystem Service Projects Support Biodiversity and Diversify Options,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105 (2008): 9445–9448.

15. M. Marvier, J. Grant, and P. Kareiva, “Nature: Poorest May See It as Their Economic Rival,” Nature 443 (2006): 749–750.

16. For example see R. T. Gerber, “Mysterious, Massive Disappearance/Death of US Honey Bees—Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD),” Target Health Global blog (2007), Available at:; R. Johnson, “Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder,” CRS Report for Congress 7-5700, RL 339238 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2010), Available at:

17. Johnson, note 16.

18. R. A. Morse and N. W. Calderone, “The Value of Honey Bees as Pollinators of U.S. Crops in 2000,” (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 2000), Available at:; C. Kremen, N. M. Williams, and R. W. Thorp, “Crop Pollination from Native Bees at Risk from Agricultural Intensification,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99 (2002): 16812–16816; Johnson, note 16.

19. Gerber, note 16.

20. Kremen et al., note 18; A. M. Klein, B. E. Vaissiere, J. H. Cane, I. Steffan-Dewenter, S. A. Cunningham, C. Kremen, and T. Tscharntke. “Importance of Pollinators in Changing Landscapes for World Crops,” Proc. Royal Soc. B 274 (2007): 303–313.

21. R. L. Goldman, B. Thompson, and G. C. Daily, “Institutional Incentives for Managing the Landscape: Inducing Cooperation for the Production of Ecosystem Services,” Ecological Economics 64 (2007): 333–343.

22. Kremen et al., note 18; A. M. Klein, I. Steffan-Dewenter, and T. Tscharntke, “Fruit Set of Highland Coffee Increases with the Diversity of Pollinating Bees. Proc. Royal Soc. Lond. Ser. B 270 (2003): 955–961; T. H. Ricketts,” Tropical Forest Fragments Enhance Pollinator Activity in Nearby Coffee Crops,” Conservation Biology 18 (2004): 1262–1271; C. Kremen, N. William, W. Bugg, J. Fay, and R. Thorp, “The Area Requirements of an Ecosystem Service: Crop Pollination by Native Bee Communities in California,” Ecol. Lett. 7 (2004): 1109–1119; B. J. Brosi, G. C. Daily, and R. Ehrlich, “Bee Community Shifts with Landscape Context in a Tropical Countryside,” Ecological Applications 17 (2007): 418–430.

23. T. H. Ricketts, G. C. Daily, P. R. Ehrlich, and C. D. Michener, “Economic Value of Tropical Forest to Coffee Production,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101 (2004): 12579–12582.

24. For example, Klein et al., note 22; Ricketts et al., note 23.

25. Ricketts et al., note 23.

26. I. Calabuig, Solitary Bees and Bumble Bees in a Danish Agricultural Landscape Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 2000); Kremen et al., note 17; Ricketts et al., note 22; Kremen et al., note 22; R. E. Shuler, T. H. Roulston, G. E. Farris, “Farming Practices Influence Wild Pollinator Populations on Squash and Pumpkin,” Journal of Economic Entomology 98 (2005): 790–795; L. A. Morandin and M. L. Winston, “Wild Bee Abundance and Seed Production in Conventional, Organic, and Genetically Modified Canola,” Ecological Applications 15 (2005): 871–881.

27. D. W. Roubik, “The Value of Bees to the Coffee Harvest,” Nature 417 (2002): 708.

28. C. Kearns, D. Inouye, and N. Waser, “ENDANGERED MUTUALISMS: The Conservation of Plant-Pollinator Interactions,” Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 29 (1998): 83–112.; Kremen et al., note 18.

29. J. Jowit, “UN Says Case for Saving Species ‘More Powerful Than Climate Change,’”, May 21, 2010, Available at:

30. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, note 3; S. J. M. Blaber, “Mangroves and Fishes: Issues of Diversity, Dependence, and Dogma,” Bulletin of Marine Science 80 (2007): 457–472; S. Das and J. R. Vincent, “Mangroves, Protected Villages and Reduced Death Toll During Indian Super Cycline,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106 (2009): 7357–7360; B. Borrell, “Do Mangrove Forests Save Lives?” The Nature Conservancy Magazine, Summer (2010): 43–55.

31. O. Aburto-Oropeza, E. Ezcurra, G. Danemann, V. Valdez, J. Murray, E. Sala, “Mangroves in the Gulf of California Increase Fishery Yields,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105 (2008): 10456–10459.

32. F. Danielsen, M.K. S⊘rensen, M.F. Olwig, V. Selvam, F.Parish, N.D. Burgess, T. Hiraishi, V.M. Karunagaran, M.S. Rasmussen, L.B. Hansen, A. Quarto, N. Suryadiputra, “The Asian Tsunami: A Protective Role for Coastal Vegetation,” Science 310 (2005): 643; K. Kathiresan and N. Rajendran, “Coastal Mangrove Forests Mitigated Tsunami,” Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 65 (2005): 601–606;

E.B. Barbier, E.W. Koch, B.R. Silliman, S.D. Hacker, E. Wolanski, J. Primavera, E.F. Granek, S. Polasky, S. Aswani, L.A. Cramer, D.M. Stoms, C.J. Kennedy, D. Bael, C.V. Kappel, G.M. Perillo, D.J. Reed, “Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management with Nonlinear Ecological Functions and Values,” Science 319 (2008): 321–323

33. Das and Vincent, note 30.

34. Golman et al., note 14.

35. J. Salzman, “Creating Markets for Ecosystem Services: Notes from the Field,” New York University Law Review 80 (2005): 870–961; S. Wunder, “The Efficiency of Payments for Environmental Services in Tropical Conservation,” Conservation Biology 21 (2007): 48–58; B. K. Jack, C. Kousky, and K. R. E. Sims, “Designing Payments for Ecosystem Services: Lessons from Previous Experience with Incentive-Based Mechanisms,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (2008): 9465–9470.

36. D. Perrot-Maître, “The Vittel Payments for Ecosystem Services: A “Perfect” PES Case?” (London: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2006); N. Asquith and S. Wunder, Payments for Watershed Services: The Bellagio Conversations (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia: Fundación Natura Bolivia, 2008); S. Engel, S. Pagiola, and S. Wunder, “Designing Payments for Environmental Services in Theory and Practice: An Overview of the Issues,” Ecological Economics 65 (2008): 663–674; Jack et al., note 35; G. C. Daily and P. Matson, “Ecosystem Services: From Theory to Implementation,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105 (2008): 9455–9456.

37. K. A. Brauman, G. C. Daily, T. K. Duarte, and H. A. Mooney, “The Nature and Value of Ecosystem Services: An Overview Highlighting Hydrologic Services,” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 32 (2007): 67–98; K. M. Krchnak, Watershed Valuation as a Tool for Biodiversity Conservation (Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy, 2007); Asquith and Wunder, note 36; I. Porras, M. Greig-Gran, and N. Neves, “All that Glitters: A Review of Payments for Watershed Services in Developing Countries,” Natural Resource Issues No. 11 (London: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2008).

38. D. White, J. Rubiano, M. Andersson, J. Garcia, L. Saenz, and A. Jarvis, “Análisis de opotunidades de inversión en conservación por ahorros en tratamiento de aguas Sitio del estudio: El Páramo de Chingaza Colombia (An analysis of opportunities for investments in conservation savings in water treatment: a case study of the páramo of Chingaza National Park, Colombia),” (Colombia: CIAT, 2009).

39. For more information on water funds, see R. L. Goldman, S. Benitez, A. Calvache, and A. Ramos, Water Funds: Protecting Watersheds for Nature and People (Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy, 2010).

40. G. Daily and K. Ellison, The New Economy of Nature: The Quest to make Conservation Profitable (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002).

41. For example, see H. Tallis, R. Goldman, M. Uhl, and B. Brosi, “Integrating Conservation and Development in the Field: Implementing Ecosystem Service Projects,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7 (2009): 12–20.

42. Jowit, note 29.

Rebecca L. Goldman is a Senior Scientist for Board Relations in the central science division of The Nature Conservancy. Her focus at TNC is on ecosystem services topics and projects, including designing impact measures for ecosystem services-based watershed conservation in Latin America.

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