The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

What You Need To Know About Energy

Transitioning to Sustainability Through Research and Development on Ecosystem Services and Biofuels: Workshop Summary (2007)

In 2007, the NRC’s Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability hosted its first forum on issues related to sustainability research and ecosystem services, defined as "the benefits people obtain from ecosystems." This report is a summary of discussions from the forum, which focused on identifying research gaps and opportunities for collaboration among federal agencies. The underlying purpose of these discussions was to consider strategies for balancing the challenges of sustainability with the need to support the development of alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. Participants emphasized that much is already known about the natural science issues surrounding these topics; the bigger gap is in understanding the associated social, economic, political, and behavioral issues. Questions to consider include understanding which resource management approaches work and which don’t and why; the impact of changing ecosystems on communities; and an understanding of who benefits most from current efforts to expand the production of biofuels. A key theme that emerged from these discussions was the need to take a holistic approach in looking at the sustainability of biofuels and approaches to managing ecosystem services.

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