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An operational model for mainstreaming ecosystem services into practice

Despite growing interest in ecosystem services research, such at the Valuing Nature in Texas program at the Houston Advanced Research Center, there is a notable lack of studies designed to inform state and local management of areas which deliver important ecosystem services. This paper discusses how ecosystem services research might be mainstreamed to advance implementation in policies and practices by parctitioners. The authors suggest that achieving this level of adoption is a social process riddled with complexity, contention and uncertainty and go on to suggest an operational model that has three project phases; assessment, planning and management. These are further broken down into a range of steps which move stakeholders from being informed about regional biophysical issues to a position of being empowered to implement local management leading ideally a to socio-ecological system resilient to climate and other impacts. Four elements at the core of the operational model are socially-relevant framing, user-inspired research, stakeholder empowerment, adaptive management, and learning organizations. The strategies and actions prescribed by the proposed model will not be easy to fully implement, being time consuming and costly and in many cases requiring fundamental changes in thinking and practices. On the other hand, ecosystem services are essential to the future of humanity.

Source: Cowling, R.M., Egoh, B., Knight, A.T., O'Farrell, P.J., Reyers, B., Rouget, M., Roux, D.J., Welz, A., & Wilhelm-Rechman, A. (2008) An operational model for mainstreaming ecosystem services for implementation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 9483-9488.


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