Business for Social Responsibility has issued a report (pdf) that assesses the top seven emerging tools companies can use to measure “ecosystem services.”
Ecosystem services are the collective benefits (e.g., clean water, timber) provided by a community of plants and animals interacting with their physical environments.
Forests, for example, supply pure water and help regulate temperature; wetlands provide filtration and flood mitigation benefits, said Linda Hwang, BSR’s Manager, Environmental Research & Development.
Below, a map of the tools by type of business need and level of intended application:
The seven tools are divided into two groups:
Ecosystem service assessment tools focus on more than one ecosystem service at once. An example of this type of tool is ARIES (Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Service), a computer model that forecasts the economic values provided by ecosystem services in a specific area.?
ESR (Ecosystems Services Review) asks corporate managers a sequence of questions that helps them develop strategies to manage risks and opportunities arising from a company’s dependence on ecosystems. Others included in the reports are InVEST, MIMES, and NVI.
The remaining tools are centered more on biodiversity issues – that is, they consider the role of biodiversity in ecosystem structure and function. BBOP (Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program Toolkit), for instance, assesses whether biodiversity offsets are appropriate and provides guidance on offset design.
The Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) helps companies incorporate biodiversity into their risk analysis, decision-making, and planning processes.