Center for Progressive Reform

Letting Nature Work in the Pacific Northwest

Protecting Ecosystem Services

In the decades since Congress and state legislatures passed most of our biggest environmental laws, our knowledge about ecosystems has increased dramatically. We know much more about the “goods and services” that ecosystems provide—more about the migratory species that sustain agriculture by functioning as pollinators, or about how healthy ecosystems help to filter and clean our water. Today, our policy makers haven’t yet taken advantage of much of that new knowledge. As ecologists learn more about the complex and dynamic interactions that produce these valuable services, decision-makers and advocates should adopt an ecosystem services approach to implementing laws that affect the environment.

With generous support from the Bullitt Foundation, CPR is helping to define the ecosystem services approach to implementing laws that affect the environment. It marks the beginning of a long-term discussion on how to adapt environmental, natural resources, and other laws to our dependence on functioning, dynamic ecosystems.

CPR’s materials on ecosystem services include:

  • Ecosystem Services Manual. Letting Nature Work in the Pacific Northwest: A Manual for Protecting Ecosystem Services Under Existing Law (CPR White Paper 1304), defines the approach and identifies both prerequisites and principles for implementing it. The paper then applies the ecosystem services approach in the context of floodplain restoration, focusing on flood hazard mitigation and the broad range of services provided by floodplains.
  • Ecosystem Services Webinar. In April 2013, CPR hosted a webinar to discuss the publication and its key points. Presenters included CPR Member Scholars Robert W. Adler, Robert L. Glicksman, Daniel J. Rohlf, and Robert R.M. Verchick.

Other selected ecosystem services resources by CPR Member Scholars (SSRN where available):

Robert W. Adler

  • Resilience, Restoration, and Sustainability: Revisiting the Fundamental Principles of the Clean Water Act, 32 Wash. U. J.L. Pol’y 139 (2010), http://ssrn.com/abstract=1652951
  • Freshwater: Sustaining Use by Protecting Ecosystems 39 Envtl. L. Rep. News & Analysis 10309 (2009)
  • An Ecosystem Perspective on Collaboration for the Colorado River 8 Nev. L.J. 1031 (2008), http://ssrn.com/abstract=1241483
  • The Two Lost Books in the Water Quality Trilogy: The Elusive Objectives of Physical and Biological Integrity, 33 Envtl. L. 29, 32 (2003), http://ssrn.com/abstract=1683724

Alejandro Camacho

Robin Kundis Craig

  • “The Atmosphere, the Oceans, Climate Change, and Ecosystem Services,” in Climate Change: A Reader (William H. Rodgers, Jr. et al, eds., Carolina Academic Press, 2011)

Holly Doremus

  • Can the Clean Water Act Succeed as an Ecosystem Protection Law? __ George Washington J. Energy & Envt’l L. __ (forthcoming) (with A. Dan Tarlock), http://ssrn.com/abstract=2168724

Robert L. Glicksman

  • Ecosystem Resilience to Disruptions Linked to Global Climate Change: An Adaptive Approach to Federal Land Management, 87 Neb. L. Rev. 833 (2009), http://ssrn.com/abstract=1529012

  • A Comparative Analysis of Accountability Mechanisms for Ecosystem Service Markets in the US and the EU, __ Transnat’l Envtl. L. ___ (forthcoming) (with Thoko Kaime)

Dale D. Goble

  • What Are Slugs Good For? Ecosystem Services and the Conservation of Biodiversity, 22 J. Land Use & Envtl. L. 411 (2007), http://ssrn.com/abstract=926757

Christine A. Klein

Daniel J. Rohlf

  • “Integrating law, policy, and science in managing and restoring ecosystems,” in The Laws of Nature: Reflections on the Evolution of Ecosystem Management Law and Policy (University of Akron Press, Kalyani Robbins ed., (forthcoming 2012)

A. Dan Tarlock

Robert R.M. Verchick

Sandra B. Zellmer

  • Floods, Famines, or Feasts: Too Much, Too Little, or Just Right, 24- WTR Nat. Resources & Env’t 20 (2010)
  • Why Resilience May Not Always Be a Good Thing: Lessons in Ecosystem Restoration from Glen Canyon and the Everglades, 87 Neb. L. Rev. 893 (2009) (with Lance Gunderson)


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