This section of the Federal Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook provides brief descriptions and links to a number of online resources relevant to implementing an ecosystem services approach. It is updated as new resources become available. The resources highlighted here either complement or supplement this guidebook and the “Best Practices for Integrating Ecosystem Services into Federal Resource Management” paper. This list should not be considered an endorsement of any one tool or resource, but rather a curated collections of available resources.
ValuES: Methods for integrating ecosystem services into policy, planning, and practice is a new addition to our implementation toolkits, and the USDA’s Ecosystem Services Assessment Portal has been added to our informational resources.
See all recommended resources below, or filter by category:
U.S. Federal Action on Ecosystem Services
State Level Services Assessments
Quantitative Modeling Toolkits
- Meetings and Webinars hosted by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership to foster shared learning among the community, including recordings, slides, and notes.
- Printable Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook. PDFs created in February 2016. For the most up-to-date information, please visit corresponding sections online.
- The NESP Conceptual Model Series provides a collection of resources explaining why ecosystem services conceptual models (ESCMs) are useful for decision making, providing guidance for building ESCMs, and describing NESP’s initial efforts to standardize and apply these models with federal agency partners. It includes application examples of ESCMs and associated evidence libraries. The series aims to provide practical guidance for those who wish to apply ESCMs as a tool for incorporating ecosystem services considerations into their decisions. For more information, see Building and Using Conceptual Diagrams in the Assessment Framework section.
- “Best Practices for Integrating Ecosystem Services into Federal Resource Management” sets best practice standards for implementation of ecosystem services to assist federal agencies. The report recommendations which include details on non-monetary measures of ecosystem services are now featured in the online FRMES Guidebook. The report also includes 10 examples of how ecosystem services can be incorporated into Federal decision making.
- “Proposal for Increasing Consistency When Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Decision Making” illustrates the use of ecosystem service conceptual diagrams as a tool for supporting consistency — that is, use of one set of services and metrics — across the varied actions and geographies relevant to a decision maker.
- “Data and Modeling Infrastructure for National Integration of Ecosystem Services into Decision Making: Expert Summaries” describes the ecological and social data and models available for quantifying the production and value of many ecosystem services across the United States.
- “Benefit relevant indicators: Ecosystem services measures that link ecological and social outcomes” proposes the use of a new type of indicator that explicitly reflects an ecosystem’s capacity to provide benefits to society, ensuring that ecosystem services assessments measure outcomes that are demonstrably and directly relevant to human welfare. We call these benefit-relevant indicators (BRIs) and describe a process for developing them using causal chains that link management decisions through ecological responses to effects on human well-being.
- “So You Want Your Research to Be Relevant? Building the Bridge between Ecosystem Services Research and Practice,” from the journal Ecosystem Services provides illustrative examples of the gaps between research and practice and describes how researchers can make their work relevant to decision makers by using benefit relevant indicators (BRIs) and by choosing models appropriate for particular decision contexts.
- “Ecosystem Services and Judge-Made Law: A Review of Legal Cases in Common Law Countries,” from the journal Ecosystem Services, suggests courses of action for furthering ecosystem services protection through the court systems of common law countries.
- Two papers, “Application of an Ecosysem Services Framework for BLM Land Use Planning: Consistency with the Federal Land Policy Management Act and Other Applicable Law” and “Integration of Ecosystem Services Valuation Analysis into National Environmental Policy Act Compliance: Legal and Policy Perspectives,” explain how the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 and the National Environmental Policy Act enable or limit agencies’ incorporation of ecosystem services approaches into federal planning and management processes.
U.S. Federal Action on Ecosystem Services
- USAID has released Integrating Ecosystem Values into Cost-Benefit Analysis: Recommendations for USAID and Practitioners (2018) which provides recommendations for the incorporation of ecosystem service valuations into Agency cost-benefit analysis (CBA) across sectors, both for USAID staff that produce or use CBAs and for USAID as an institution. In addition, this document provides specific guidance for USAID sectors that are commonly integrated with biodiversity—including global climate change, food security, energy and infrastructure, and water, sanitation and hygiene—but the process and principles described here are relevant for CBAs in any sectors.
- The White House CEQ released a policy memorandum in the fall of 2015 directing federal agencies to begin incorporating ecosystem services in federal planning and decision making. Related guidance is still underway.
- On November 3, 2015, the White House released a memorandum aimed at minimizing impacts on, accelerating restoration of, and incentivizing private investment in our land, water, and wildlife.
- On August 25, 2015, the White House released the report “Ecosystem-Service Assessment: Research Needs for Coastal Green Infrastructure.”
- In 2013, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released new principles and requirements for federal investments in water resources and include guidance on using an ecosystem services evaluation framework for water resources projects.
- The U.S. Forest Service’s 2012 Planning Rule requires that planning activities consider ecosystem services as part of an integrated resource management focus.
- A series of short videos by the Conservation Strategy Fund explain some of the key concepts in valuation of ecosystem services.
- “Total Economic Valuation of the National Park Service Lands and Programs: Results of a Survey of the American Public” presents the first-ever comprehensive estimate of the total economic value of the National Parks Service. The estimate covers administered lands, waters, and historic sites as well as National Parks Service programs, which include protection of natural landmarks and historic sites, partnerships with local communities, recreational activities and educational programs.
- This primer “Multicriteria Evaluation for Ecosystem Services,” shows how and where structured methods of multicriteria evaluation might help agencies integrate ecosystem services into their planning processes.
- “Trees at work: economic accounting for forest ecosystem services in the U.S.South” proposes an approach to 1) quantifying annual flows of ecosystem services, 2) developing a spatial catalog of the marginal values of changes in those flows, and 3) accounting for the total value of ecosystem services lost or gained as a result of changes in forest ecosystems. Chapters on cultural services, watershed services, air quality and carbon, and provisioning of non-timber forest products—provide guidance on best practices for quantifying and estimating the values of these services as provided by forests.
State Level Services Assessments
- The Texas Statewide Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Services by Texas A & M Forest Service estimates the economic value of a number of ecosystem services provided by forests.
- Florida has conducted a similar study via the Stewardship Ecosystem Services Survey Project. This study valued key ecosystem services provided by non-industrial private forest and explored the attitudes and knowledge of private forest landowners and management agency personnel regarding ecosystem services.
- The Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) commissioned a three-part study to evaluate the economic return on the investment of public funds in habitat restoration through DER projects. The studies found that these projects created jobs, stimulated economic growth, and produced long-term economic value by enhancing ecosystem services.
- The Tessa toolkit has a very extensive site assessment method with detailed data gathering tools. It is best suited for projects that will be strongly driven by ecological data. It does not provide valuation methods or consideration of policy implications.
- The Canadian Ecosystem Services Toolkit (PDF) is made for government agencies and policy makers. The data gathering methods are very rudimentary. It has a very strong section about ES integration into government projects and rulemaking.
- The Conservation by Design 2.0 toolkit (PDF) is a good fit for NGOs and Land managers by taking deliberate steps through strategy mapping and strategy selection. This toolkit also helps managers by providing implementation tools such as budgeting and work plans. This toolkit does not provide detailed data gathering or valuation methods.
- The ValuES toolkit is the most simplistic and user-friendly toolkit. The toolkit provides concrete examples of each of its methods. It provides valuation tools and consideration of policy implications. Site assessment methods and data gathering tools are limited in this toolkit due to its simplistic nature.
- The Natural Capital Protocol and Toolkit is meant to be used by businesses looking to consider natural capital in assessing their work and projects. It includes an in-depth protocol that features classification of ecosystem services as well as valuation techniques for natural capital. The toolkit helps business leaders synthesize tools and data into useful information for project implementation.
- The ValuES provides methods for integrating ecosystem services into policy, planning, and practice. The Methods Navigator leads to profiles with advice and practical information about a broad range of methods. It can help you find your way. Assessments should be tailored to a specific purpose. This inventory identifies ten purposes for examining ecosystem services, and provides examples from six policy areas. Case studies show experiences from different applications and study processes.
Quantitative Modeling Toolkits
- The InVEST toolkit can only be used by experienced modelers. The toolkit uses GIS tools to model ecological and social variables to inform ES program decision-making.
- The ARIES toolkit is an artificial intelligence modeler that provides and ecosystem assessment with the provided ecological, social and economic data.
- Co$ting Nature is a toolkit that uses spatial datasets from around the world including ecological and sociological data in order to create quantitative assessments of a site and different project strategies. The toolkit can be used with a project’s own dataset.
- Water World is very similar to Co$ting Nature, but made specifically for water related projects. It includes worldwide spatial data for ecological and socioeconomic variables. It provides a series of policies and their impacts on ecological and economic determinants.
- The i-Tree toolkit targets the ecosystem services of trees. It is simple to use, but requires some data such as tree species and diameter at breast height (DBH). After running the data through the model, i-Tree provides reports on composition and structure, as well as ecosystem service benefits like water filtration and air quality.
- Treepedia is an urban tool that measures the “Green view index,” a metric that compares tree canopy cover strategies in urban settings. This tool can be used as a complement to other tools for urban ecosystem service projects.
- The VELMA Ecohydrological Model is focused on green infrastructure and its use for improving water quality. The model can be used to find the best green infrastructure practices including riparian buffers and cover crops. The model can also quantify the ecosystem service benefits and tradeoffs for different green infrastructure implementations.
- “Assessment and Valuation of Forest Ecosystem Services: State of the Science Review” focuses on the assessment and economic valuation of ecosystem services from forest ecosystems. It is aimed at forest economists and managers and intended to provide a useful reference to those interested in developing the practice of integrated forest modeling and valuation.
- Oppla is an interactive forum in which land managers can share tools for ecosystem services. It includes free memberships that allow you to share ecosystem services tools and documents.
- NOAA Digital Coast is a collection of data and tools that can be used for coastal ecosystem service assessment. The website has visualization tools, predictive tools, as well as economic, ecological, and imagery databases. Digital Coast also provides online training courses.
- Mapping Ocean Wealth is a great collection of information regarding ecosystem services oceans provide. It has detailed explanations on the ecosystem services of the oceans as well as mapping tools and a carbon calculator. It is a great starting place for managers with limited experience in ocean ecosystem services.
- “Ecosystem Services: Towards Integrated Marine Infrastructure Project Assessment,” enables the design of more sustainable dredging and marine infrastructure and their efficient and safe implementation and realization in environmentally sensitive areas. The report includes a number of examples.
- This report, “Ecosystem services as Assessment Endpoints for Ecological Risk Assessment,” from Munns et al., describes the new set of generic ecological assessment endpoints for ecosystem services devised by the US EPA’s Risk Assessment Forum and how they might be used to improve the value of risk assessment to environmental decision making.
- EnviroAtlas is a collection of interactive mapping tools and resources that allows users to explore many of the benefits people receive from nature. This collaborative project was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service, and Landscope America. Much of the data in EnviroAtlas illustrates ecosystem services, the populations who benefit from these services, and the factors that may stress or influence an ecosystem’s ability to provide these benefits.
- “Making the Invisible Visible: Analytical Tools for Assessing Business Impacts and Dependencies Upon Ecosystem Services,” a report by Business for Social Responsibility, summarizes many tools and data sources available for ecosystem services assessments. Although focused on business applications, the assessments on robustness and credibility are transferable to other sectors.
- The Ecosystem Services Assessment Portal from the USDA serves as a collection of links to guides, databases, online tools, and downloadable software to help users identify, quantify, and value ecosystem services.
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