No matter where you live, you rely on goods and services supplied by natural ecosystems. The resources and processes provided by ecosystems are known as “ecosystem services”, a term brought to prominence by the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). These services include everything from the food you eat to the air you breathe. However, with increasing human demand, ecosystems and their services are at risk of exploitation, modification, and loss. This is due, in part, to the undervaluation of these ecosystem services in our market-system.
In this curated set, we introduce the basics of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), a method for determining value and promoting conservation of ecosystem services. Students can then explore how PES can be applied in real-world, local contexts, consider the complex perspectives of stakeholders involved in these management decisions, and reflect on the realities and limitations of bringing ecosystems into the economic fold.