This course will evaluate the scientific, economic, and socio-political basis for Ecosystem Services. Ecosystem Services - sometimes referred to as Earth's 'Natural Capital' - represent the sum of all goods and services that natural and managed ecosystems provide to humanity. These services include direct provisioning of goods like food, wood, and freshwater, regulating services such as climate regulation or pest and disease control, and cultural services such as recreation and tourism. The idea that ecosystems have natural capital has become increasingly prominent over the past decade as scientists, economists, and politicians have considered how to account for the values of ecosystems that are not included in traditional economic markets. This class will explore the ways in which ecosystem services are measured and related to basic ecological processes, how those services are valued and monetized by society, and how services are managed and encouraged by policy and law. Theoretical and practical concepts will be reinforced by student-led case studies that provide 'real-world' examples of ecosystem services being valued, including payment for ecosystem services projects, biodiversity offsets, certification schemes, and REDD+.
This course is offered every other Fall term.