Texas Ecosystem Services: A statewide assessment
Authors: Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Natural Resources Conservation Service
The diverse landscapes in Texas are comprised of many ecosystems providing vital goods, services, and public benefits. These commodities of nature, defined as ecosystem services, are the set of functions or products benefiting human wellbeing, encompassing many life-sustaining products such as climate regulation, air purification, and pollination. Many ecosystem services are traditionally considered free to society. For example, everyone enjoys clean air, clean water, and flood control provided by healthy forest, range, and wetland ecosystems.
Although an important component of natural landscapes, ecosystem services typically lack formal market structures, and their associated benefits are difficult to quantify or appropriately value. As a result, the contributions and importance of ecosystem services are often overlooked by the general public, government leaders, and those involved in land use decision-making.
Promoting the long-term sustainability and stewardship of natural resources begins with a basic understanding of ecosystem services and their public benefits—and, ideally, the ability to assign monetary value can illustrate the importance of contributions to society. This information can serve to support land conservation strategies and policies to promote the conservation of open spaces and natural resources. Thus, the objectives of this report are to (1) provide examples of broad ecosystem services, and (2) estimate their relative economic value or level of current investments.
Putman, A., R. Lopez, L. Smith, J. Uzquiano, A. Lund, D. Anderson, J. Gan, C. Ellis, J. Roberts, C. Kneuper, L. Ziehr and C. Ross. 2022. Texas ecosystem services: A statewide assessment. Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Research Report Number 2022-1. College Station, Texas, USA.