Gund Institute to Help Determine Ecosystem Costs, Benefits

A new partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (ORD) and the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont will help decision makers more accurately determine the costs and benefits of actions that alter ecosystem services -- the goods and services of nature such as clean air and water, erosion and flood control, soil enrichment, and food and fiber. Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems.

"We are pleased to enter into this collaboration with the Gund Institute, a leader in ecosystem services research," said George Gray, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development. "Through partnerships such as this, we can work to better understand the relationships between our own actions and the impacts on life-sustaining services of nature. Ultimately, the research will enable us to make better decisions to protect and conserve ecosystems," he said.

Through collaboration, EPA is providing the information and tools needed to include the value of ecosystem services in decision-making by communities, states, regions, and tribes.

Planners can use the scientific models and tools developed through the partnership to make more informed decisions about the total costs and benefits of proposed land uses, including impacts on water, air quality, and other services of nature. They can apply models to predict impacts on ecosystem services from development options and conduct long-range planning to sustain natural resources in order to meet the needs of both current and future generations.

One area of collaboration will be to apply a suite of computer models developed by the Gund Institute to research projects planned by EPA to study ecosystem services in four different parts of the country: the plains in the Upper Midwest, the Willamette River Valley in Oregon, coastal areas of North and South Carolina, and Tampa Bay in Florida.

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