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Open-File Report 2011–1221

Developing an Institutional Framework to Incorporate Ecosystem Services into Decision Making—Proceedings of a Workshop

By Dianna Hogan, Greg Arthaud, David Brookshire, Tom Gunther, Stephanie Pincetl, Carl Shapiro, and Bea Van Horne

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (101 KB)Introduction

The routine and effective incorporation of ecosystem services information into resource management decisions requires a careful consideration of the value of goods and services provided by natural systems. A multidisciplinary workshop was held in October 2008 on “Developing an Institutional Framework to Incorporate Ecosystem Services into Decision Making.” This report summarizes that workshop, which focused on examining the relationship between an institutional framework and consideration of ecosystem services in resource management decision making.

This workshop was the third in a series of three preconference workshops associated with ACES 2008 (A Conference on Ecosystem Services): Using Science for Decision Making in Dynamic Systems. These workshops were designed to explore the ACES 2008 theme on decision making and how the concept of ecosystem services can more effectively be incorporated into conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. Preconference workshop 1, “Developing a Vision: Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Decision Making,” was held April 15, 2008, in Cambridge, MA. In this workshop, participants addressed what would have to happen to make ecosystem services more routinely and effectively used in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions, and identified some key challenges to developing the analytical framework (Hogan and others, 2009). Preconference workshop 2, “Developing an Analytical Framework: Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Decision Making,” was held July 28, 2008, in Naples, FL, and focused on the analytical process and identification of research priorities for ecosystem services, their production and use, their spatial and temporal characteristics, their relationship with natural systems, and their interdependencies (Hogan and others, 2010). The summary presented here synthesizes the discussion at workshop 3 and considers how institutional structures and policy instruments can be used to achieve the vision developed in workshop 1, while recognizing the analytical capabilities and limitations identified in workshop 2.

Our purpose was to identify how to use ecosystem service information more effectively and broadly in resource management and development decisions. We recognized the need to facilitate an integrated understanding of (1) the natural capital that produces ecosystem services; (2) the geospatial and temporal aspects of ecosystem service production, values, and use; (3) the value of ecosystem services (monetary and nonmonetary); and (4) institutional instruments, processes, and structures (property rights, laws, governance structures, and courts, for example). Interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding is beneficial and needs to engage stakeholders.

The appropriate use of institutional structures, including markets, to integrate ecosystem services into decision making depends on the players and characteristics of the specific situation (such as stakeholders, the ecosystem, resources, and the political environment). Incorporating ecosystem service values into decisions requires consideration of place-based social, cultural, economic, and landscape characteristics and institutions. Thus, a single, prescribed solution will not work—various institutional strategies must be used in different situations. Market-based approaches require appropriate regulations, monitoring, and enforcement, depending on the situation and place. Further, market approaches will need to be coupled with nonmarket approaches into an integrated institutional framework.

First posted September 21, 2011

For additional information contact:
Dianna Hogan
U.S. Geological Survey
521 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, Virginia 20192

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Suggested citation:

Hogan, Dianna, Arthaud, Greg, Brookshire, David, Gunther, Tom, Pincetl, Stephanie, Shapiro, Carl, and Van Horne, Bea, 2011, Developing an institutional framework to incorporate ecosystem services into decision making—Proceedings of a workshop: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1221, 9 p. Available at


Introduction and Background

Institutions and Policy Tools

Market and Nonmarket Techniques

Considerations for the Scientific Evaluaiton of Ecosystem Services

Considerations for Implementing Ecosystem Services Regulation, Mitigation, and Management

Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Decision Making


References Cited

Appenedix 1. Participants in Preconference Workshop 3, Developing an Institutional Framework to Incorporate Ecosystem Services into Decision Making

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