Thank you for your interest in the Communicating Ecosystem Services project. The project was developed by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and The Union of Concerned Scientists in 2000 and is now coordinated by ESA. The project's goal is to 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 our country's biological resources. To help reach this goal we have developed outreach tools on specific ecosystem services. These tool kits have been 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. Although intended for people with a scientific background, no special expertise in a particular service is necessary to use these materials.

The Contents of the Tool Kits
Each tool kit provides background information on the specific ecosystem service, as well as general tips and suggestions for developing presentations or writing articles for a non-scientific audience. All of the materials have gone through a series of reviews by scientists with expertise in the topic covered by the service. The non-service specific materials have general application for communicating ecological topics to the public. We hope that these materials will inspire confidence and comfort in those of you who have not had much experience communicating science to the general public.

Each tool kit contains four types of materials:
(1) Introductory Materials that describe the project and how to use the materials.
(2) Summary Materials that provide technical background on the service as well as "take home" messages and other materials developed for dissemination to the public.
(3) Background Materials that include case studies, policy information, references for further information, and graphics and other presentation aids.
(4) Supplemental Materials that include general materials on ecosystem services, tips on how to communicate with different audiences, and essays on critical topics such as valuation of services.

The introduction section of each tool kit contains a complete list of the tool kit contents.

Tool Kits have been completed on the following services:
Water Purification

How to Use the Tool Kits
The materials aim to provide a good understanding of the science, with some related background information and a list of resources for more details as needed. Each tool kit includes many separate pieces to achieve this goal. Depending on your audience, the nature of the presentation, and your level of expertise, you may have use for some, but not all of the materials. You may, on the other hand, find that additional research is needed to develop an appropriate presentation for your audience. It may be that you are interested mainly in one particular aspect of the service the role of riparian vegetation in controlling agricultural runoff, or native fruit-pollinating bees for example. The tool kits provide an extensive resource list that points you to papers, web sites, organizations, and people who can provide further details.

These materials have been developed to be useful with a variety of audiences, including the media, policy makers and the general public. You may want to use the materials, for example, to give a presentation to your daughter's Girl Scout troop or to your local planning board. You can use the materials to write an op-ed to your local newspaper or to prepare for an interview with a reporter. The 'Getting Started' piece offers a series of ideas for audiences and how to make the connections.


Final Thoughts
Our goal is to have produced a user-friendly final product with the highest level of scientific credibility. The examples and details in these tool kits provide information with a predominantly United States focus. The overall issues are similar at international and local levels and we imagine that users will fill in details as appropriate for their location and audience.

Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-8773