Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series
Edited by Davide Geneletti
Chapter 17: Mitigation for the people: an ecosystem services framework
Many of the laws that establish environmental impact mitigation were designed to protect people from the impacts of environmental degradation, yet economic development impacts on ecosystem services– the benefits nature provides to people – are seldom well incorporated in mitigation. We lack a unified conceptual framework and analytical precedent to guide the integration of ecosystem services into more commonly practiced biodiversity mitigation contexts. Here, we present a four-step framework that addresses key deficiencies in current biodiversity mitigation practice and recommend how ecosystem services can be included in the context of existing regulatory approaches. Within this framework, we address the conceptual and analytical advances needed to establish ecosystem service targets, delineate a spatial extent that captures ecosystem service supply and delivery (servicesheds), establish avoidance thresholds for services, quantitatively estimate impacts on services, consistently construct mitigation replacement ratios, and identify and design potential ecosystem service offsets. In each of these areas, we identify opportunities to embed ecosystem services alongside biodiversity in a single integrated framework.
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