Communicating Ecosystem Services Strategic Goal
Use the concept of ecosystem services — especially those that provide tangible benefits to humans — to mobilize the scientific community to raise the public's awareness of the importance of the country's biological resources.

Objectives
1) To develop a set of outreach tools on specific ecosystem services designed for use by scientists and other professionals to inform the public and policy makers about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and protecting biodiversity.
2) To develop strategies and put into action an outreach and distribution plan for disseminating this information.





Rationale
Widespread public polling and focus groups suggest that the loss of our world's biological resources is not a pressing issue with the informed public. Yet the massive loss of species and the habitats upon which they depend is now a global crisis. To begin addressing this crisis, a large-scale shift in public opinion must occur. The concept of "ecosystem services" is a good vehicle for public and policy maker education. When the connection is made between people's everyday lives and the ecosystem services upon which they depend, they are likely to be motivated to protect and enhance those ecosystems.

The science behind ecosystem services helps elucidate the connections between actions taken by people and the results these actions have on those things that they care about such as clean air and water, fresh produce and scenic beauty.

Although there is still much to learn about ecological processes, substantial understanding of many ecosystem services and the scientific principles underlying them already exists. Building on the scientific underpinnings currently established, we can make this information accessible and engaging to the public — and deliver the information in the most credible and persuasive manner possible.


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Approach
This project combines sound ecological expertise with outreach/communication tactics to develop a set of scientifically based information packets "tool kits" about key ecosystem services. Ecologists and conservation biologists will be the primary "messengers." This critical information will be widely disseminate and targeted to policy makers and to the public who hold them accountable for their decisions regarding U.S. biological resources. The project will benefit from the combined expertise of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The Project Committee members include Gerardo Ceballos (Instituto de Ecología), John Dennis (National Park Service), Yaffa Grossman (Beloit College), Carol Kearns (University of Colorado), Jennifer Kelly (Environmental Media Service), Deb Neher (University of Toledo), Catherine Pringle (University of Georgia), Walt Reid (private consultant), David Simpson (Resources for the Future), and Stefan Summer (Idaho Museum of Natural History).


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For more information contact:

Dr. Clifford Duke
Director of Science Programs
Ecological Society of America
202 833-8773
esahq@esa.org

Nancy Cole
Union of Concerned Scientists
617 547-5552
ncole@ucsusa.org


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