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Tampa Bay Ecosystem Services

Tampa Bay Ecosystem Services

Tampa Bay

EPA's mission is to protect human health and the environment (Learn More). but how can we meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs? More specifically, how can we protect our shared environment – air, water, land, and ecosystems -- in ways that sustain human health and well-being, are economically viable, and socially just? Supporting that mission, EPA's Office of Research and Development scientists and partners work together to better understand the balance between the three pillars of sustainability—environment, society, and economy.

The research being conducted in the Tampa Bay demonstration project helps to provide information, data, and approaches that communities need to make strategic decisions for a prosperous and environmentally sustainable future. The Tampa Bay demonstration project explores ecosystem goods and services from this standpoint.

People use, consume, and benefit from the things that nature makes available. Many benefits come from ecosystem goods and services, such as air and water purification, the production of food, and materials for homes, clothing, and other basic needs essential to human health and well being. The ecosystem goods and services shown below contribute to social welfare or have the potential to do so in the future. Different sets of ecosystem goods and services come from natural renewable resources and processes associated with specific land uses (Production Matrix). Patterns of land use/cover and associated aquatic areas can be used to map ecosystem services across the landscape (Land Use Scenarios). The sustainability of nature's benefits supporting human health and well-being depends on balancing human uses with associated impacts on the regeneration of natural resources and processes Learn More. Learn more about sustainability and smart growth.

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Unfortunately, humanity's need for ecosystem services (ecological footprint) currently is more than 23% larger than what the planet regenerates Learn More Exit Disclaimer. What this means is that modern humans consume more of nature's resources than nature can produce; in short, our current way of life is not sustainable (World Resources Institute 2001 Learn More) Exit Disclaimer.  In addition, the quality and delivery of ecosystem goods and services can be diminished by human activities, either intentionally and unintentionally.  

The value of nature's benefits is difficult to consider in environmental decision-making since ecosystem goods and services are usually not well measured or quantified in economic terms (Learn More) Exit Disclaimer. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Ecosystem Services Research Program (ESRP) and other research partners offer this web site to engage the public and potential new partners in defining a common language and foundation for incorporating the value of, and risk of losing ecosystem services into the decision making process. The images above link to web pages showing mapped ecosystem services of interest and value to Tampa Bay area residents, and interesting facts about services provided by different ecosystem.

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