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Mapping and Valuing Ecosystem Services as an Approach for Conservation and Natural-Resource Management

Heather Tallis and Stephen Polasky The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology, 2009: Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1162: 265–283 (2009).


Current approaches to conservation and natural-resource management often focus on single objectives, resulting in many unintended consequences. These outcomes often affect society through unaccounted-for ecosystem services. A major challenge in moving to amore ecosystem-based approach to management thatwould avoid such societal damages is the creation of practical tools that bring a scientifically sound, production function-based approach to natural-resource decision making. A new set of computerbased models is presented, the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs tool (InVEST) that has been designed to inform such decisions. Several of the key features of these models are discussed, including the ability to visualize relationships among multiple ecosystem services and biodiversity, the ability to focus on ecosystem services rather than biophysical processes, the ability to project service levels and values in space, sensitivity to manager-designed scenarios, and flexibility to deal with data and knowledge limitations. Sample outputs of InVEST are shown for two case applications; the Willamette Basin in Oregon and the Amazon Basin. Future challenges relating to the incorporation of social data, the projection of social distributional effects, and the design of effective policy mechanisms are discussed.

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Keywords: production function,benefit transfer,valuation,conservation,win-win,poverty,trade-off

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