Richard E. Sparks, Bioscience
Although ecological systems support plants and animals, they do so much more: They provide vital services to people that improve well-being. Ecosystems, as scientists called them, purify water and air, reduce flood and drought risks, provide food and fuel, and support recreation, to name a few of the many benefits. To ensure these valuable services continue, our natural areas must be healthy to provide these valuable services.
Fortunately, a relatively new field of study, known as ecosystem services, is shedding new light on the importance of ecological services, while also providing new opportunities for protecting the diversity of life found on Earth. The Great Rivers Partnership is working to harness the "win-win" potential of improved ecosystem services and greater conservation action through the implementation of pilot projects, synthesis of lessons learned and development of maps, guidance and decision tools.
The partnership's three-part ecosystem services strategy includes: