Quantifying Ecosystem Services Workshop Report

The main goals of this workshop were to identify the “ecosystem service” benefits (broadly, the benefits gained by humans from ecosystems) of implementing best management practices (BMPs) designed to improve water quality, and discuss how they could be integrated into existing Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Partnership decision-making tools.  The workshop also endeavored to create a shared understanding among workshop participants of the opportunities for, and constraints on, efforts to quantify these benefits.  The workshop demonstrated that the identification, quantification, and valuation of ecosystem service benefits are distinct, but related, activities; each can be useful for local decision makers, depending on the context.  Importantly, if local decision makers better understand the additional benefits of BMPs already being implemented for water quality improvements – added ‘bonus’ benefits such as flood risk reduction, air pollution treatment, and enhanced recreational opportunities – they may better leverage available resources and meet multiple objectives for their communities.  An additional objective of this workshop was to generate a list of ecosystem services and the associated BMPs for which quantification is a priority – both those for which data gaps currently exist and those that are “ready to go” (i.e., data/analyses exist to support quantification) with next steps for how to incorporate these into existing Partnership management tools.

There were five key findings reiterated throughout the workshop that should directly influence Partnership decisions on the next steps in this process: