This research explored how the concept of ecosystem services has been characterized and used to aid decision-making, and to promote the success of environmental protection strategies in the management of estuaries. The research was conducted between 2008 and 2012, and is based upon reports and survey information received from the study population of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Estuary Programs (NEPs). The research examined the perceived benefits from articulating the value of ecosystem services in various NEP functions. The study population was comprised of 28 geographically defined programs on all coasts of the United States, created under authority of the Clean Water Act, expressly to protect estuaries. Estuary management programs have used ecosystem service valuation successfully, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to set environmental protection and restoration objectives, and to communicate to stakeholders. The most widespread use of ecosystem service valuation information was to frame issues and to ground discussions in values that are important to stakeholders. NEP managers who had some direct experience with the use of ecosystem service valuation were nearly twice as likely to assert "ecosystem services information is useful" as those who were merely alert to the concept.

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Keywords Decision-making, Ecosystem service, Environmental management, National estuary program
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Journal Ecosystem Services
Martin, L. (Lawrence). (2014). The use of ecosystem services information by the U.S. national estuary programs. Ecosystem Services, 9, 139–154. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.05.004