Setting the bar: Standards for ecosystem services

Stephen Polasky, Heather Tallis, Belinda Reyers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Progress in ecosystem service science has been rapid, and there is now a healthy appetite among key public and private sector decision makers for this science. However, changing policy and management is a long-term project, one that raises a number of specific practical challenges. One impediment to broad adoption of ecosystem service information is the lack of standards that define terminology, acceptable data and methods, and reporting requirements. Ecosystem service standards should be tailored to specific use contexts, such as national income and wealth accounts, corporate sustainability reporting, land-use planning, and environmental impact assessments. Many standard-setting organizations already exist, and the research community will make the most headway toward rapid uptake of ecosystem service science by working directly with these organizations. Progress has been made in aligning with existing organizations in areas such as product certification and sustainability reporting, but a major challenge remains in mainstreaming ecosystem service information into core public and private use contexts, such as agricultural and energy subsidy design, national income accounts, and corporate accounts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7356-7361
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 16 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Accounting
  • Mainstreaming
  • Natural capital
  • Service provision
  • Value


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