Ecosystems services—the benefits that natural ecosystems provide to society—are increasingly the focus of public and private land management decisions. Markets and other payment schemes for ecosystem services are emerging organically in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in many regions—but with little coordination. There is a growing demand for standardization of assessment tools (measures, metrics and standards) that can be applied in a consistent manner across ecoregions and by practitioners from agencies with differing programmatic mandates. This task will require agreement across ecologists, economists, social scientists, and practitioners from academia, state and federal agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector. This NCEAS working group will focus on the ecological and biodiversity characteristics related to the production of ecosystem services, especially, the development of robust, consistent methods and metrics for measuring the quantity and relative ecological value of these services in a multi-criteria decision framework. This effort will be coordinated with parallel activities, focused on social valuation, conducted through the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), and with a larger stakeholder audience represented by the National Ecosystems Services Partnership (NESP). NCEAS activities will include a series of workshops within interim tasks that will evolve as a national program on ecosystem services is refined and codified.
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This work is supported by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, a Center funded by NSF (Grant #EF-0553768), the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the State of California.