Ecosystem Services Program Research

Making Environmental Markets Work

One of the main focuses of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is to find ways to protect and restore ecosystems and the many services they provide. One way the Ecosystem Services Program is fulfilling this goal is through voluntary and compliance based environmental markets. The Program currently has a number of environmental markets projects centered on agricultureforestrycoastal habitats.

Improving Endangered Species Management

Nationwide, several hundred species are being evaluated for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Research at the Nicholas Institute is exploring whether effective pre-compliance could be the key to recovery for a number of species while demonstrating the promise of multi-species management.

Urban Policy and Planning

Increasingly, city governments are facing major costs for maintaining water infrastructure and water quality. Through a series of interconnected and multidisciplinary working groups, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is exploring new ideas, approaches, and governance models involved in integrating ecosystem services proactively in the urban and regional planning and policy processes. The project also explores the potential for the new concepts to result in better environmental and social outcomes.

Protecting and Restoring Watersheds

Healthy watersheds provide habitats for wildlife, clean drinking water, resilient coastal fisheries and communities, and a setting for recreational activities. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is exploring innovative and traditional approaches to address watershed challenges, including sediment and nutrient pollution and degraded or impaired habitats. 

Accounting for Ecosystem Services Value

Conventional accounting and assessment methods may not properly track stocks and flows of ecosystems and their services. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is developing methods to assign and incorporate these values, allowing for improved management of natural resources. Current projects include the development of a database of marine economic valuations, approaches to help public water utilities account for green infrastructure, as well as a project with federal agencies to create an approach to account for ecosystem services in federal planning and management processes.