Ecosystem services

West Farms

Earlier this year I have met with Dr. Elena Bennett, one of co-authors of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report (2005). She suggested that ecosystems are more likely to be healthy when they are managed to produce multiple ecosystem services. For example, a community garden would be in a better state if it provided food, space for community events, and habitats for pollinators, as opposed to a community garden that is used only to provide food. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment framework distinguishes four types of ecosystem services: (1) Supporting such as soil formation, (2) Provisioning such as food, fuel and fresh water, (3) Regulating including climate and flood regulation, and (4) Cultural such as aesthetic, spiritual, educational and recreational. Some more specific examples of ecosystem services can be found in this factsheet (PDF), which I helped to develop while working with the Urban Environment Program at the Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC.

I took this photo of Drew Gardens in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx after I moved back to the Bronx on August 1st, 2009. Drew Gardens is an excellent example of community-based ecosystem management for multiple ecosystem services because it provides fresh food, recreational and educational opportunities, habitat for wildlife, retains stormwater, cools down the air in summer, and contributes to community building. I will explore how the framework of ecosystem services can be connected to sense of place in the context of my research project about civic ecology education in the Bronx.

References:

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: a report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.


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