Ecosystem Services & Conservation

Ecosystem Services & Conservation

Our well being is fundamentally linked to healthy ecosystems. To expand our knowledge of these connections, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment supports interdisciplinary work probing human impacts on nature and shapes new conservation paradigms. Woods convenes workshops and dialogues to expand awareness of nature’s values and ways to sustain them. These events have laid the foundation for partnerships such as the Natural Capital Project, a pioneering initiative transforming how governments and businesses factor nature’s value into decision-making. Woods works to inform those decisions by sharing findings of Stanford’s world-class biologists, ecologists, social scientists and others. Woods centers and affiliated scholars are provide cutting-edge research, support networks and practical tools to create solutions that benefit people and nature.


Highlighting California’s Ecosystems

Paul S. and Billie Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology, Emeritus, Harold Mooney and his former student, Erika Zavaleta, Pepper-Giberson Chair in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, co-edited Ecosystems of California, a thorough overview of the state’s varied and rich ecosystems. The book’s 149 contributors include a number of Stanford scholars. Woods facilitated briefings with key California policy and decision-makers in Sacramento and highlighted the value of the book as a resource for researchers, policymakers, natural resource managers and students. Read more.

Tracking China’s Progress

Though often noted for its environmental challenges, China has successfully implemented environmental policies and conservation science at a breathtaking scale. A Natural Capital Project, found strong gains in carbon sequestration and soil retention attributed largely to reforestation. This allowed researchers to evaluate the economic and environmental tradeoffs of China’s National Ecosystem Assessment efforts by analyzing data from satellites and other means. Read more.

Reducing Deforestation

Due to growing demand, agriculture is expanding into forest ecosystems. Because agricultural companies prefer areas where deforestation regulations are less restrictive, deforestation can shift between regions based on the regulatory environment, according to a study led by George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor Eric Lambin (Stanford Earth). Understanding the motivations and market forces affecting companies can encourage collaboration with environmentalists to reduce deforestation according to another study by Lambin. Such efforts were found to be more than twice as effective as narrow programs developed by either group. Read more.

Integrating Nature and Business

Woods hosted the fourth in a series of Natural Capital Business Roundtables with NOAA and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. The event brought together the private, public and academic sectors to discuss integrating natural capital into business models. Companies like HP and Google described incorporating natural capital into their operations and highlighted the need for the work of the Natural Capital Project which connects science, government and business communities with the tools and information needed to value natural capital. Read more.

Understanding Species Loss

An analysis of past large mammal extinctions by Stanford researchers showed that the disappearance of large land animals could have major and permanent impacts on associated plants and animals and even cause the loss of entire ecosystems. Species loss is also discussed in The Annihilation of Nature, co-authored by Bing Professor of Population Studies Paul Ehrlich (Biology). Proceeds from the book, which details the characteristics and likelihoods of extinction for various species, support research by young conservation biologists. Read more and watch video.

Conserving Biodiversity

Scientists found that by maintaining small patches of forest in and around farms, stakeholders can achieve most of their conservation goals while also providing benefits to agriculture and people. Climate change can also affect biodiversity, as noted in a study led by Woods Senior Fellow Eric Lambin that looks at the climate-induced die-off of Alaskan yellow cedar trees, and recommends a new model of conservation integrating social and ecological methods to forward climate adaptation. Read more.

On Camera

One-Two Punch of Climate and Land Use Changes

Study highlights that paying attention to current and future regional climate can help decision-makers expand agriculture in ways that minimize harm to, and maybe even benefit, particular at-risk species. Read more and Slideshow

The Annihilation of Nature

Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich describes the unique characteristics and chances of extinction for various species. Ehrlich's latest book, co-authored with Gerardo Ceballos and Anne Ehrlich, is The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals.

In The News

Study Finds China’s Ecosystems Have Become Healthier

New report co-authored by Senior Fellow Gretchen Daily on China's efforts to restore natural habitats
June 17, 2016 - By Te-Ping Chen, Wall Street Journal

Read More

To Save South America's Forests Harmonize Tough Environment Rules - Study

Quotes Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Yann le Polain de Waroux, lead author of deforestation study.
March 28, 2016 - By , Reuters

Read More

Greenery (or Even Photos of Trees) Can Make Us Happier

Cites a Stanford study showing the benefits of the experience of nature co-authored by Senior Fellow Gretchen Daily (Biology)
March 17, 2016 - By Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times

Read More

New Discoveries: Bigfoot Daddy Longlegs and a Bad Bacterium

Senior Fellow Rob Jackson (earth system science) co-authors a blog on the latest newly discovered species.
February 10, 2016 - By  Rob Jackson, Cal Academy of Sciences news

Read More

Top Tweets