The idea of ecosystems providing services to human populations was popularized by the United Nations 2004 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a four-year study involving more than 1,300 scientists worldwide.
Understanding how ecosystem processes relate to economic and social processes is one of the great challenges of our time. Scientists, economists and governments are pioneering work to describe and protect all the various services provided by a well-functioning ecosystem. Many questions remain regarding how much these services are worth, and how to pay for them, but there is no doubt that ecosystems provide great economic and social values.
The Clean Water Institute offers far-reaching expertise in the area of ecosystem services from implementing restoration projects on the ground to shaping policy tools to drive investment toward ecosystem services. We've spent the last ten years implementing programs that benefit from a deep understanding of what land owners, tax payers and ecosystems need. The Institute is interested in working with watershed stakeholders to develop transparent, tenable and effective programs for improving ecosystems and the services that they provide.
Utilities are faced with an increasingly complex environment. It is essential to be able to adapt and manage natural resource issues like climate change, changing regulatory frameworks and swings in the economy.
Community-based watershed restoration is a cornerstone of the Clean Water Institute. From tree planting and landowner incentives to capital improvements and invasive species removal, we offer expertise on site selection strategies, organizing the community at scale, volunteer efforts, tools for landowners, ecosystem credit trading and more. Learn more about Tree for All, our program that engages communities large and small in watershed restoration projects throughout the Tualatin River Basin.
Outdated regulatory structures often focus on single problems (e.g. phosphates or temperature) even though it is known that the natural world is deeply interconnected. The mismatch between holistic management of environmental problems and old institutions can force massive investments in concrete and steel solutions that ultimately do not serve the best interests of the public or the environment.
Taking a more comprehensive, watershed scale approach like investing in restoration and other green infrastructure enables water utilities and other permittee to step beyond the single water quality parameter and focus broadly on improving watershed health. This approach can translate to cost savings and greater ecological benefits.