You are here:
Practical Strategies for Integrating Final Ecosystem Goods and Services into Community Decision-Making.
Yee, S., J. Bousquin, Randy Bruins, Tim Canfield, Ted DeWitt, R. DeJesus-Crespo, B. Dyson, R. Fulford, M. Harwell, J. Hoffman, C. Littles, JohnM Johnston, Bob Mckane, L. Ruiz-Green, M. Russell, L. Sharpe, N. Seeteram, A. Tashie, AND K. Williams. Practical Strategies for Integrating Final Ecosystem Goods and Services into Community Decision-Making. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-17/266, 2017.
This report uses Structured Decision Making (SDM) as an organizing framework to illustrate the role ecosystem services can play in a values-focused decision-process. A number of practical strategies for incorporating Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS), and more broadly ecosystem services, into the decision-making process are presented.
The concept of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) explicitly connects ecosystem services to the people that benefit from them. This report presents a number of practical strategies for incorporating FEGS, and more broadly ecosystem services, into the decision-making process. Whether a decision process is in early or late stages, or whether a process includes informal or formal decision analysis, there are multiple points where ecosystem services concepts can be integrated. This report uses Structured Decision Making (SDM) as an organizing framework to illustrate the role ecosystem services can play in a values-focused decision-process, including: • Clarifying the decision context: Ecosystem services can help clarify the potential impacts of an issue on natural resources together with their spatial and temporal extent based on supply and delivery of those services, and help identify beneficiaries for inclusion as stakeholders in the deliberative process. • Defining objectives and performance measures: Ecosystem services may directly represent stakeholder objectives, or may be means toward achieving other objectives. • Creating alternatives: Ecosystem services can bring to light creative alternatives for achieving other social, economic, health, or general well-being objectives. • Estimating consequences: Ecosystem services assessments can implement ecological production functions (EPFs) and ecological benefits functions (EBFs) to link decision alternatives to stakeholder objectives. • Considering trade-offs: The decision process should consider ecosystem services objectives alongside other kinds of objectives (e.g., social, economic) that may or may not be related to ecosystem conditions. • Implementing and monitoring: Monitoring after a decision is implemented can help determine whether the incorporation of ecosystem services leads to measurable benefits, or what levels of ecosystem function are needed for meaningful change. An evaluation of impacts on ecosystem services from past decisions can provide a learning opportunity to adapt future decisions. Each chapter of this report details one of these steps, and each chapter is paired with a set of appendices providing examples of tools and approaches that decision makers can use for that step. This report also presents a number of case study examples that illustrate the ecosystem services concepts, approaches, and tools presented in this report for a variety of community decision processes, such as resiliency planning or sustainability planning, watershed or coastal management, habitat restoration, risk assessments, or environmental impact assessments. Possible advantages of integrating ecosystem services concepts into community decision-making through values-focused thinking include: improved information collection, improved communication, expanded stakeholder engagement, creative development and evaluation of alternatives, interconnected decisions, and strategic thinking.