Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook

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Remotely hosted on free website
National Ecosystem Services Partnership
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On May 8, 2012, the National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP), in partnership with A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), coordinated a meeting of federal agencies wanting to integrate ecosystem services concepts into management and planning and to engage resource managers and planners in this process. The participants identified multiple challenges:

Lack of capacity and tools to identify and assess ecosystem services and incorporate them into planning and management processes;
Institutional resistance to a new idea with still-developing methods;
Institutional limits to cross-agency sharing and coordinated use of these methods and tools; and
Concern about the credibility and defensibility of methods within the context of the planning process and agencies’ legal authorities.

To move forward, agency representatives asked for guidance on developing an ecosystem services assessment and accounting framework and assessment and accounting methods. They also requested information about relevant tools and a mechanism to share best practices, thereby eliminating unnecessary duplications of agency efforts.

In response, the National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP) launched the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services (FRMES) project to develop credible approaches for incorporating ecosystem services into natural resource planning and management. This effort culminated in this guidebook, which describes how these approaches can be useful for federal resource planners and managers, provides a framework and methodology to enhance the consistency of the approaches, and examines how federal agencies are exploring or applying them.

The guidebook includes:

  • A description of the project, its contributors, and its audience and purpose;
  • A high-level overview of ecosystem services, why they may be a constructive framework for natural resource decisions, and potential challenges to this framework’s adoption;
  • Two papers that explain how the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 and the National Environmental Policy Act enable or limit agencies’ incorporation of ecosystem services approaches into federal research management and planning, overviews of the context in which 5 agencies are incorporating consideration of ecosystem services into resource management, and 13 descriptions of explorations or applications of an ecosystem services concept in natural resources management;
  • A decision framework for incorporating consideration of ecosystem services into natural resources management.

More than 150 individuals from agencies, universities, NGOs, and think tanks participated in the FRMES project. More than 80 people contributed directly to the guidebook’s contents.


National Ecosystem Services Partnership. 2014. Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook. Durham: National Ecosystem Services Partnership, Duke University,