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Ecosystem Services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems and are classified as provisioning services (e.g. food, fuel), regulating services (e.g. air quality, pollination), cultural services (e.g. educational values, sense of place) and supporting services (e.g. photosynthesis, nutrient cycling). The ecosystem services concept was highlighted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), where it was used to explain the link between biodiversity and human well-being. Biodiversity is considered to be the main provider of ecosystem services. The concept provides a useful tool for communicating the importance and urgency of environmental management and protection, as it shows our dependency on ecosystems, whilst acknowledging that humans are part of ecosystems.
The ecosystem services concept is gaining increasing prominence in environmental policy making and several environmental organizations have adopted, or are considering adopting, the concept. Although the concept is gaining popularity with regulators and policy makers, the underlying science required to put policy into practice is still in its infancy; most attention having been given to the valuation rather than the sustainable management of ecosystem services.
This provides an excellent opportunity for SETAC to influence and facilitate the development of this area of environmental science and policy.
The primary aim of the SETAC Ecosystem Services Interest Group (ES-IG) is to create a platform for the exchange of information and ideas for the use of the ecosystem services concept in risk assessment and management, environmental regulation and valuation of ecosystem services. The latter provides a link with economic sciences. The ES-IG exists to serve as a scientific resource for all stakeholders interested in the topic of ecosystem services, and fulfills the following mission and purpose:
- Advance overall understanding of the use of the ecosystem services concept.
- Serve as a focal point within SETAC as a means of involving the membership in research and discussions.
- Provide scientific support to facilitate effective regulatory decision making.
- Provide a forum for knowledge transfer (lecture series, special science symposia),
- Organize sessions at annual meetings and organizing workshops to address scientific issues associated with ecosystem services.
The ES-IG is lead by a chairperson and a steering committee, who are SETAC members. The chairperson and the steering committee provide leadership and initiative to carry out the goals of the Group, and co-ordinate their activities through meetings at SETAC conferences, by email communication and through the SETAC communities site.
The ES-IG was established in April 2010. Founding steering committee members are: Joke van Wensem (chair) Soil Protection Technical Committee (TCB), Netherlands; Lorraine Maltby, University Sheffield, UK; Tim Canfield, US-EPA; Ron Gouguet, Windward Environmental, USA; Michael Warne, Department of Environment and Resource Management Queensland, Australia.