SERVES: Simple Effective Resource for Valuing Ecosystem Services

Land use and development planning that only accounts for the value of built capital often negatively impacts communities: small businesses and jobs can be lost, environmental health is impacted, and community structure may be lost. SERVES (Simple and Effective Resource for Valuing Ecosystem Services), can be used by individuals and communities to understand and leverage the economic value of green infrastructure and natural systems. This information provides powerful arguments for shifting investment towards sustainability.

Ecosystem Service Valuations provide an opportunity for all people– not just those with strong environmental values–to understand and appreciate the value of natural systems to our economy and quality of life. SERVES demonstrates economic value provided by local green infrastructure; provide citizens, businesses and policy makers an opportunity to look at green infrastructure enhancement, restoration and conservation in a new light; create strong arguments for creating and managing green infrastructure solutions; inform decision making with defensible dollar values for nature used to develop funding mechanisms for conservation projects.

Earth Economics’ original Ecosystem Service Database (ESD) was jointly developed with the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it did not reach its full potential within the grant period. Earth Economics adopted the ESD in 2007 and built a new prototype which we have been using since 2009 on our current projects. Innovations to the database, and related analysis tools, have been funded through our project and contract work. We have been able to transform the original ESD into a tool that has practical versatility and functionality and we believe it is time to make this powerful tool generally available for sound, holistic infrastructure planning.

Our valuation study database has grown exponentially in recent years as interest in ecosystem service economics has blossomed in academic circles.  It is clear to us that we can have the most positive impact in the world by making the tool available as web-based, user-friendly tool for citizens, nonprofits, and businesses with an interest in planning or development.  SERVES supports a stronger grass-roots movement empowered with the identification and valuation of ecosystem services.

Thanks to seed funding provided by The Bullitt Foundation and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Earth Economics is currently piloting the SERVES tool with a handful of partners including government agencies, NGOs and academics in the Puget Sound. With the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, SERVES development begun in Jan 2012. We plan to release this tool nationally in late 2012. Please contact if you would like to learn more.