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BIO 179: Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (BIO 279)

This course explores the science of valuing nature, through two interwoven pathways. One is biophysical, focused on human dependence and impacts on Earth¿s life-support systems. If well managed, lands, waters, and biodiversity yield a flow of vital benefits that sustain and fulfill human life. A wild bee buzzes through a farm, pollinating vegetables as it goes. Nearby, wetlands remove chemicals from the farm¿s runoff, protecting a source of drinking water. In parklands at a city¿s edge, kids play and adults walk and talk, their exposure to nature promoting physical activity and improved mental health. The trees help maintain a favorable climate, locally and globally. We¿ll develop a framework and practical tools for quantifying this stream of benefits from nature to people.nThe second pathway is social, economic, and philosophical, weaving through concepts of well-being, human development, and conservation ¿ and the ethics and effects of their pursuit. We will look back, ahead into the more »
This course explores the science of valuing nature, through two interwoven pathways. One is biophysical, focused on human dependence and impacts on Earth¿s life-support systems. If well managed, lands, waters, and biodiversity yield a flow of vital benefits that sustain and fulfill human life. A wild bee buzzes through a farm, pollinating vegetables as it goes. Nearby, wetlands remove chemicals from the farm¿s runoff, protecting a source of drinking water. In parklands at a city¿s edge, kids play and adults walk and talk, their exposure to nature promoting physical activity and improved mental health. The trees help maintain a favorable climate, locally and globally. We¿ll develop a framework and practical tools for quantifying this stream of benefits from nature to people.nThe second pathway is social, economic, and philosophical, weaving through concepts of well-being, human development, and conservation ¿ and the ethics and effects of their pursuit. We will look back, ahead into the future, and inward, taking a global view and considering diverse cultural perspectives. Our discussions will be situated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, movements for racial justice and socioeconomic equity, and efforts to enable people and nature to thrive in cities and countries worldwide.nAll of the science we¿ll explore is in service of decisions. We will dive into real-world examples to see how science can inform why, where, how, and how much people need nature. We will learn the basics of the InVEST tools (for Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) to quantify benefits of nature, the equitability in access to these benefits, and the transformation of policy, finance, management, and practice to sustain and enhance them. nThe course is intended for diverse, advanced students, with interests in research and in moving from science to action for a more just and sustainable world. The instructors aim to provide an enjoyable and productive opportunity to connect ¿ remotely and yet with a lot of heart as well as intellectual drive and commitment, bringing empathy, flexibility and hopefully some humor to the day-to-day challenges we are all facing in different difficult ways. Prerequisite: Basic to intermediate GIS (Geographic Information Systems) skills are necessary. We will help with these, but not teach GIS specifically in class. Basic skills include, for example: working with raster, vector and tabular data; loading rasters, shapefiles, and tables into a GIS; changing the symbology of rasters and shapefiles in your chosen GIS; editing raster and shapefile attribute tables; understanding coordinate systems and how to re-project layers; looking at individual raster cell values; and performing basic raster math.
Terms: Aut | Units: 1-3
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