This course will evaluate the scientific, economic, and programmatic basis for ecosystem services, which represent the sum of all goods and services that natural and managed ecosystems provide to humanity. Sometimes referred to as Earth's natural capital, or as nature’s benefits to humanity, ecosystem services include the direct provisioning of goods like food, wood, and freshwater, indirect services such as climate regulation or pest control, and cultural services like recreation and tourism. The idea that ecosystems provide people with goods and services 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 how services are provided by the government and private programs.
This course is offered every other Fall term.