Human society depends on vital goods and services provided by ecosystems. But human actions threaten to erode the ability of ecosystems to provide these ecosystem services and sustain biodiversity. In market economies, firms are rewarded for producing commodities but not for protecting environmental quality necessary for sustained provision of ecosystem services and conserving biodiversity. Consumers pay market prices that do not necessarily reflect the full costs of their production and consumption. Unless society fixes this imbalance and begins to properly account for the value of nature we are unlikely to see fundamental change necessary to sustain ecosystem services or conserve biodiversity. 
Addressing this imbalance requires completion of three tasks: 

  • Improved understanding of the likely consequences of human actions on ecosystems and their ultimate impacts on ecosystem services and biodiversity ("ecological production functions")
  • Improved understanding of the value of changes in ecosystem services or biodiversity ("valuation")
  • Design of institutions and policies that provide correct signals of values to producers and consumers ("incentives")
  • This talk will provide examples of research on ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation and a function of land use and land management decisions, addressing ecological production functions, valuation and incentives, using data from the Willamette Basin in Oregon, USA.