On Tap at the 2010 ACES Conference
A Community of Ecosystem Services (ACES) opened its meeting in Phoenix today (December 7) and the first two panels were indicative of the broad interdisciplinary composition of the audience (government, NGOs, private sector business, consulting firms and academia) as well as the nature of the research and synthesis of the methods and tools needed to scale up the incorporation of ecosystem services into resource management, conservation, restoration and land use decisions in general, according to one of the conference organizers.
Here are highlights of the morning panel discussions: how far ACES has come (since its first conference in 2008) and where it's heading.
• There has been progress in developing and implementing on-the-ground experimentation but there is much work to be done to bring ecosystem services into focus and into the mainstream.
• More accessible language is needed to describe ecosystem services and their values.
• In describing the value of ecosystem services, better quantitative measures are needed, on par with other mainstream indices such as cost of living indices that are adjusted for time and geography.
• More on-the-ground experimentation is needed to test hypotheses, tools and measure results.
• Use the funding and policy tools such as those to be negotiated in the 2012 Farm Bill to further the experimentation and funding of ecosystem services.
• Private Sector engagement is growing in terms of the development and implementation of policies and tools that recognize ecosystem services either for meeting compliance standards, for risk management or for branding.
• Need to begin shifting from an articulation of the problem to a focus on the solutions.
• Need to build collaborative networks to further connections between science and practice.
• Need to think about developing ways to value "the commons" such as special Trust Funds that build an endowment for the common ecosystem services such as the oceans and the atmosphere.
• Inherent to all experimentation, science and policy initiatives related to ecosystem services should be performance management metrics to better demonstrate that an ecosystem service approach yields a better outcome.
Stay tuned for more reporting out from ACES.