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Applying ecosystem services

ESA Corporate Award winner Adam Davis

Ecological Society of America

Starting in the compost business in 1985, Adam Davis always looked for a link between sustainable ecosystems and market mechanisms. "We're going to have to pay for the things we need the most...Earth's systems are life support systems, underlying all other social and economic systems, " says Davis.

Davis believes ecosystem services, resources and services that the environment provides such as timber, clean water, absorption of pollutants, and habitat for fisheries and agriculture, "will inform economic activity in the future." Working with industry and environmental groups, Davis helped create standards for forest management, drafting a wood procurement policy for the second largest purchaser of wood products in the United States. The policy sets standards for companies, and rewards them in relation to how well they maintain and restore the systems and services they use from nature. In another case for a major utility, he helped develop a management compensation system to reward environmental performance.

Now his work focuses on integrating economic value into land conservation for private landowners. By using current regulations to drive the economic value of conservation, his work seeks to apply ecosystem services theory and make environmental features better understood by business. Companies are finding that investing in these protected environments is not only good for the Earth, but is a sound financial investment as well.

Along with his work with industries, Adam Davis has been a messenger of sustainable use by writing for the business press, explaining the role of businesses in environmental protection, and elucidating the importance of sustainable practices for economic productivity. He has also participated as a trainer in the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program for ecological scientists over the past three years.

"Adam Davis's work is an excellent example of how ecologically sound practices and business can work together," said ESA President Pam Matson.


To learn more about Davis, visit, the Electric Power Research Institute web page, where Davis serves as Director of the Environment Division. For more information on the ESA's Annual Meeting in Tucson, Arizona, see the meeting website:

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a scientific, non-profit, 7,800-member organization founded in 1915. Through ESA reports, journals, membership research, and expert testimony to Congress, ESA seeks to promote the responsible application of ecological data and principles to the solution of environmental problems. ESA publishes three scientific, peer-reviewed journals: Ecology, Ecological Applications, and Ecological Monographs. Information about the Society and its activities is published in the Society's quarterly newsletter, ESA NewSource, and in the quarterly Bulletin. More information can be found on the ESA website:

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