Restoration of Ecosystem Services for Environmental Markets

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Science  31 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5940, pp. 575-576
DOI: 10.1126/science.1172976

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Ecological restoration is an activity that ideally results in the return of an ecosystem to an undisturbed state. Ecosystem services are the benefits humans derive from ecosystems. The two have been joined to support growing environmental markets with the goal of creating restoration-based credits that can be bought and sold. However, the allure of these markets may be overshadowing shortcomings in the science and practice of ecological restoration. Before making risky investments, we must understand why and when restoration efforts fall short of recovering the full suite of ecosystem services, what can be done to improve restoration success, and why direct measurement of the biophysical processes that support ecosystem services is the only way to guarantee the future success of these markets. Without new science and an oversight framework to protect the ecosystem service assets which people depend, markets could actually accelerate environmental degradation.

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