From Traditional Ecosystem Services to Open Space Services

Open Space Services Image

By: Tracy Stanton, Ecosystem Services and Regional Prioritization Committee Chair, ROSS project

Delve into the history of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) and you’ll find a reference to a 1998 report titled: “Protecting our Planet, Securing our Future: Linkages Among Global Environmental Issues and Human Needs. ” The report was authored by seemingly unlikely collaborators--the UNEP, NASA and The World Bank (think global environment, outer space and the economies of countries around the world).

Fast forward from 1998 to March 2005 when the MEA was formally launched offering the scientific and policy communities a framework for quantifying the benefits of 23 ecosystem services and formal strategies for increasing investment and policies to support their continued and sustainable productivity.

Fast forward another nine and a half years to today -- October 2014 -- and you land smack in the middle of Central Puget Sound’s efforts to push the MEA ecosystem services framework even further; moving beyond traditional ecosystem services to those provided by, and for the benefit of, the open space system that is at the foundation of one of the fastest growing regions in the country represented by King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Our region, the Central Puget Sound, is in the midst of a highly progressive and innovative regional planning effort to conserve and enhance the open space systems that provide direct inputs to the ecological, economic, social, recreational and aesthetic vitality of our region. The Regional Open Space Strategy (ROSS) team at the UW Green Futures lab is starting with 7 key Open Space Services: air, food, water, materials, play, work, cultural and energy, mixing in key demographic information and overlaying five significant regional challenges/filters: biodiversity, climate change, human health, social equity and economic development to create a compelling composite story for why and how Central Puget Sound must invest in its priceless natural infrastructure. Learn more about the region’s traditional ecosystem services and how the ROSS envisions the future investment in its priceless open space services.


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