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FINAL ECOSYSTEM GOODS AND SERVICES CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM (FEGS-CS)
Landers, D. AND A. Nahlik. FINAL ECOSYSTEM GOODS AND SERVICES CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM (FEGS-CS). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-13/ORD-004914, 2013.
Since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was published in 2005, there has been an exponential increase in scientific publications addressing a broad range of issues regarding all aspects of implementing the ecosystem service perspective. However, appropriately defining and classifying ecosystem services to minimize double-counting and to relate them directly to human users of these contributions from nature is a fundamental problem that investigators face in implementing the ecosystem service perspective. Directly facing this challenge, we developed a suite of definitions and a classification system that can be (a) applied at multiple special scales, (b) promotes interdisciplinary communication about the nature of ecosystem services, and (c) facilitates development of biophysical metrics that could be measured to link ecosystem goods and services to human well-being. Using the notion of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) (definition: the last components from nature enjoyed, used, or experienced by humans), we designed a two-part classification system composed of: 1) the biophysical components produced and derived from nature and 2) the identification of an explicit human beneficiary of these specific goods and services. Using this approach we identified 15 different Environmental Classes and Sub-Classes, most of which are identifiable using satellite remote sensing. We also identified 52 explicit Beneficiary Categories and Sub-Categories. Together, they define 342, specific and measureable FEGS. Each FEGS is assigned a unique four digit number in the resulting database, presented in the appendices of this Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS) EPA report as FEGS Matrices (i.e., data tables). We are currently translating the FEGS Matrices into an internet-based tool that allows users to query and customize FEGS information. We envision that through user-participation, this tool will promote the collaborative development and support of a defined set of useful FEGS that can be consistently measured across multiple landscape types. We expect that the FEGS-CS will serve as a basis for valuation of FEGS, leading to greater standardization of approaches and metrics for implementing the ecosystem services perspective.
This document defines and classifies 338 Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS), each defined and uniquely numbered by a combination of environmental class or sub-class and a beneficiary category or sub-category. The introductory section provides the rationale and conceptual foundation for this systematic approach. The bulk of the report is comprised of a series of tables describing additional information for each FEGS. This systematic approach minimizes double counting and relates each FEGS to a defined beneficiary, thus linking it specifically to human well-being. It is anticipated that this approach will facilitate increased communication regarding FEGS among a wide ranging group of scientists, practitioners and communities of all types interested in quantifying ecosystem services.