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Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS)

Overview

This site introduces the EPA-developed “Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System” (FEGS-CS) and provides access to a new, interactive draft tool that allows users to query and customize information from the systems for incorporating the benefits provided by natural ecosystems into their own research and decision-making. It is part of EPA’s commitment to meet its regulatory obligations while simultaneously helping states and local communities become healthier and more prosperous.

Appropriately defining and classifying ecosystem services—benefits supplied by nature—to minimize double-counting and to relate them directly to users is a fundamental challenge. The Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS) (Landers and Nahlik, 2013) provides a foundation for measuring, quantifying, mapping, modeling, and valuing ecosystem services.

From this report, the EPA developed a suite of definitions and a classification system that can be (a) applied at multiple spatial 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.

Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Definition: components of nature, directly enjoyed, consumed or used to yield human well-being” (Boyd, J., & Banzhaf, S. 2007 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2007.01.002Exit).

Using the notion of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS), 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) and now available on-line. This new interactive tool 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.

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Learn

This website introduces, defines, and describes a classification system for ecosystem services. By using the concept of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) to define a specific group of ecosystem services, the USEPA is providing a means to standardize ecosystem services classification which provides a solid foundation for their further use and development. The concepts and specifics presented in this website represent the first comprehensive ecosystem service classification system based on FEGS; therefore, we fully acknowledge that as more people use FEGS-CS, some of the concepts may be clarified and specifics may be modified.

The audience for this website includes individuals, communities, or firms in the public and private sectors, as well as non-profit organizations that may wish to measure, quantify, map, model, and/or value a standard, but complete, set of ecosystem services anywhere on earth. Technical practitioners (e.g., social scientists, economists, natural scientists, decision-makers, etc.) of ecosystem services will also likely appreciate the relatively fine separation of ecosystem services achieved in this classification system and the common language established in this document to efficiently communicate across disciplines and to the public.

Before diving into the tool itself, it is best to understand these 5 guiding principles:

General Principles on the FEGS Approach

Number Conceptual FEGS Principles
1 Defining, measuring, quantifying, valuing, and/or accounting for FEGS requires a wholly collaborative effort
among natural scientists and social scientists.
2 Environmental processes and functions produce potential FEGS (i.e., stocks), while people, groups, or firms
(hereon referred to as "individuals") enjoy, use, or consume FEGS.
3 Defining, identifying, and classifying a complete, but non-duplicative, set of FEGS is the foundation that can
be used as a transdisciplinary approach to measure, quantify, map, model, and value ecosystem services.
4 Because individuals enjoy, use, or consume FEGS, an understanding of their beneficiary perspective is crucial
to identify FEGS and contribute to the framing of the research and implementation plan.
5 Until the environment is measured [by natural scientists] and beneficiaries can be identified and quantified
[by social scientists], the FEGS reported in these matrices are considered candidates.

Lastly, we believe that the best way to learn about the Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FeGS-CS) is to read the 2013 final report and the references contained therein.

The report is available for download at the following: https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_Report.cfm?dirEntryId=257922.

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Use

Figure 1. An illustration suggesting how multiple interests of an individual are captured through different beneficiaries.An illustration suggesting how multiple interests of an individual are captured through different beneficiaries.  Click here to view larger image.The FEGS-CS may serve as a standardized framework for identifying and defining FEGS classes for those seeking to describe, communicate, or study (i.e., measure, quantify, map, model, and/or value) ecosystem services anywhere in the world. The FEGS-CS website allows users to query the FEGS-CS in ways that allows them to create standard, customized FEGS Matrices for their individual needs and interests.

There are currently four different ways to query the FEGS Matrices:

  1. By Environmental [Sub-]Class - If a given user knows the Environmental Classes and Sub-Classes that exist in a particular area of interest or are interested in particular environments, they may produce a list of potential beneficiaries using FEGS-CS Query Tool.
  2. By Beneficiary [Sub-]Category - If a given user is interested in particular Beneficiary Categories or Sub-Categories, they may produce a list of potential Environmental Classes or Sub-Classes in which those beneficiaries may interact with  FEGS using FEGS-CS Query Tool.
  3. By Categories of FEGS - If a given user is interested in particular Categories of FEGS, it is relatively easy to produce a list of potential environments and beneficiaries with which these potential FEGS are associated using FEGS-CS Query Tool.
  4. Advanced - If a given user wants to fully customize the FEGS Matrices, the advance query allows the user to select specific Environmental [Sub-]Classes, Beneficiary [Sub-]Categories, and/or Categories of FEGS they are interested in. Note that this is the most restrictive query and that by limiting the number of Environmental [Sub-]Classes, Beneficiary [Sub-]Categories, and/or Categories of FEGS that are included the user may be presented few or no results.

As an on-going effort, FEGS metrics and associated units will be added as examples, where possible, to the FEGS Matrices. These metrics will inform natural scientists how to measure certain FEGS provided within a specific area (i.e., environments) so that they may be quantified. At present, all of the metrics are "Proposed", meaning they have been suggested as potential measurements but not yet vetted. Over time and through a standardized process, we intend to test Proposed FEGS Metrics with the user community.

Please contact Dixon Landers (landers.dixon@epa.gov) or Amanda Nahlik (nahlik.amanda@epa.gov) for general issues or requests.

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Query Tool

Because one of the design goals of the FEGS Matrices was to be complete, both across the landscape and for the potential beneficiaries, the complete FEGS Matrices are quite extensive.

Customizing the FEGS Matrices allows you to restrict either or all the Environmental [Sub-]Classes, Beneficiary [Sub-]Categories, and Categories of FEGS so you are not burdened by irrelevant information to your particular interests. The Query Tool will help guide you through customizing the FEGS Matrices for your interests and use. For example, you use the Query Tool to produce customized FEGS Matrices that report FEGS for a specific Environmental Sub-Class or by a group of Beneficiary Sub-Categories.

Click the option below to begin customizing the FEGS Matrices using the FEGS-CS Query Tool.

Note: After you are satisfied with your customized FEGS Matrix, you will have the option to download it as a spreadsheet in CSV format.

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Contact Us

Please contact Dixon Landers (landers.dixon@epa.gov) or Amanda Nahlik (nahlik.amanda@epa.gov) for general issues or requests.