NCEAS Project 8200

Conservation priorities: Can we have our biodiversity and ecosystem services too?

  • Peter Kareiva
  • Gretchen Daily
  • Stephen Polasky
  • Taylor Ricketts

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group26th—29th September 2005Participant List  
Working Group21st—23rd February 2006Participant List  
Working Group23rd—27th April 2007Participant List  

Members Only Area

The delineation of biodiversity hotspots that protect as many species as possible with as little land as possible has been the dominant paradigm in conservation science. Recently, however, this paradigm has been challenged on two accounts. The first challenge is that the burgeoning human population will make it impossible to adequately secure biodiversity in "protected areas", and that instead we must turn to working landscapes with substantial human use as places of biodiversity value. Second, with so much of the world impoverished, there is a need for land management that first and foremost ensures that basic natural services (or "ecosystem services") are provided to people. We intend to explore the spatial congruence between ecosystem services and biodiversity at multiple spatial scales, and in so doing ask to what extent the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity protection can be aligned, and what are the tradeoffs where they are not aligned?

This will be much more than a simple mapping exercise because it will be important to extend methods of ecosystem valuation to services and levels of detail that have been lacking thus far in the literature. Most existing maps of ecosystem services simply categorize each land area as a habitat type, and then assign to that habitat type some "generalized dollar value". In contrast we seek to create a spatially explicit accounting of biodiversity targets and ecosystems services, along with a consideration of who benefits from the services, and who might be expected to pay for them and how.

Our purpose is not to replace the goal of biodiversity protection with the goal of ecosystem service protection. Rather we seek to understand if and how the two goals might both be met, as well as how to minimize tradeoffs between the two goals where biodiversity and services are not strongly correlated. In addition to doing the spatial analyses of services and biodiversity, we will explore financial mechanisms that might help pay for the services.

Our working group will start with a mapping and valuation exercise entailing the Upper Yangtze River in China because of the many critical resource decisions this biodiversity rich region is currently facing. We will then extend our analyses to other systems, as well as different spatial scales. Our working group will be fluid with membership varying depending on the systems and analyses under discussion; however the two hallmarks of this effort are its mix of on-the-ground conservation experience from international conservation NGO's and academic scholars, including economists, ecologists and conservation planners.

TypeProduct of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Nelson, Erik; Mendoza, Guillermo; Regetz, Jim; Polasky, Stephen; Tallis, Heather; Cameron, D. Richard; Chan, Kai M.A.; Daily, Gretchen; Goldstein, Joshua; Kareiva, Peter; Lonsdorf, Eric; Naidoo, Robin; Ricketts, Taylor; Shaw, M. Rebecca. 2009. Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Vol: 7(1). Pages 4-11.