Biography & Abstract



Prof. Gretchen C. Daily
Center for Conservation Biology

She work is oriented around three broad questions. First, given the projected intensification of human impacts on the biosphere, what kinds of species and ecosystems will exist over the coming decades and centuries? Second, which are most important and most merit protection, from scientific and societal standpoints? Third, what strategies will effect the deep, global transformation needed to bring human impacts into balance with what the biosphere can sustain?
To address the first question, she is developing the field of countryside biogeography, to forecast change in biodiversity and biodiversity-driven ecosystem services under alternative futures of land use and practices. To address the latter questions – advancing fundamental science and integrating it into policy – She co-founded and serve as Faculty Director of the Natural Capital Project. This international partnership aims to mainstream values of nature into decisions, engaging leaders worldwide. Together with decision-makers, they are co-developing (i) new science; (ii) quantitative models and practical software tools for mapping and valuing ecosystem services (integrating biophysical, economic, social, and institutional dimensions of social-ecological systems); and (iii) real-world demonstrations with governments, corporations, development banks, and other influential organizations in ca. 50 countries.

Title: The Science and Practice of Valuing Nature in Decisions

Abstract: Over the pastdecade, efforts to recognize and value ecosystems as vital capital assets havebeen promoted by many as the last, best hope to secure Earth’s life-supportsystems and human well-being.  Therecognition is now dawning worldwide, and the challenge is to turn it intoincentives and institutions that will guide wise investments in natural capitalon a large scale. 

I will discuss astrategy for meeting this challenge, and advances being made on three keyfronts.  The first is in characterizingthe production of ecosystem services, in biophysical, economic, health, andcultural dimensions.  The second frontieris the integration of this understanding into new, practical tools andapproaches for use in high-leverage decision contexts.  The third frontier is in policy and financemechanisms now being implemented around the world. 

Six lessons standout in the many pilot demonstrations underway in China and across the worldconcerning the science-policy process; the utility of simple models inreal-world decisions; enabling conditions and local capacity building; thereporting of values in different metrics (not only monetary); the science gapin linking biophysical change to changes in human well-being; and communicatinguncertainty. 

I will concludewith a vision for the work ahead to accelerate and greatly magnify the impactof the revolution underway.