Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

Last, programs were evaluated for the opportunities they provide for improved and/or expanded market presence generated by the provisioning of ecosystem functions/services for farmers, land managers, and working lands. This section was created from descriptive observations and emergent themes in the database.

3.2 GUIDING CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS

As relevant to the U.S. Northeast, the ecosystem functions and services of four primary working landscapes we focused on were 1) farming, food, and agriculture; 2) working forests and woodlands; 3) fisheries, aquaculture, and shellfish operations; and 4) supporting landscapes and systems. Our scope of work and subsequent analysis were guided by the following definitions and assumptions.

3.2.1 Ecosystem functions and services While definitions vary, ecosystem functions and services are popularly known as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems” (MEA 2005). As part of this initial conceptualization, ecosystem services were descri bed in four categories: provisioning services, regulating services, supporting services, and cultural services (Figure 3). To assign value to the diversity of benefits people receive from their environment, these benefits include not only economic functions such as production and profitability but also ecological and social functions (Bolund and Hunhammar 1999; MEA 2005). As such, ecosystem services have been framed to support the production of food and material goods and to maintain the continued function of the ecosystems that underlie these broader economic functions.

Figure 3. Traditional conceptualization of ecosystem services, developed by the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)

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