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Ecosystem Services

Rural landscape with river

Ecosystem goods and services produce the many life-sustaining benefits we receive from nature—clean air and water, fertile soil for crop production, pollination, and flood control. These ecosystem services are important to environmental and human health and well-being, yet they are limited and often taken for granted.

Ecosystem-focused research develops methods that measure ecosystem goods and services. This research addresses:

  • how to estimate current production of ecosystem goods and services, given the type and condition of ecosystems;
  • how ecosystem services contribute to human health and well-being; and
  • how the production and benefits of these ecosystem services may be reduced or sustained under various decision scenarios and in response to regional conditions.

Researchers are exploring and interpreting primary health data and social surveys, and are developing indicators for benefits associated with access to natural areas, such as improved health, reduced costs of healthcare, and improved social ties. Understanding research outcomes will lead to improved environmental management and planning that can inform urban design, strengthen neighborhoods, and contribute to community vitality, economic health and livability.

Related Resources

Ecosystem Decision Support Tools 

Ecosystem-Specific Resources