Ecological, geomorphic, geochemical, and hydrologic processes affect supplies of water, food, and other ecosystem services over longer time periods and greater areas than those generally accounted for in resource management decisions. Credit: P.D. Brooks
Human societies depend greatly on the natural environment in many ways: for food production, water supplies, erosion and flood control, and recreational opportunities, for example. However, the linkages between human societies and these benefits they derive from the environment have not always been considered explicitly when managing natural resources. To understand these linkages so that benefits from the environment can be more effectively managed, the framework of “ecosystem services” has emerged as a useful approach.
The benefits that society derives from the environment have been described in many ways, with ecosystem services initially classified into four distinct categories [Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005]:
An example of an ecosystem service critical to society is provision of water of sufficient quantity, timing, and quality for drinking and other human requirements. A traditional ecosystem services perspective focuses on relating active vegetation management (e.g., forest thinning) or vegetation change due to disturbance (e.g., fire, insect, or drought mortality) to water resources, often emphasizing precipitation, soil moisture, and surface water flows while not necessarily considering other influential processes [e.g., Alila et al., 2009]. Read more >>
Field J.P., Breshears D.D., Law D.J., Villegas J.C., López-Hoffman L., Brooks P.D., Chorover J., and Pelletier J.D. (2016): Understanding ecosystem services from a geosciences perspective. EOS 97. DOI: 10.1029/2016EO043591
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.