Ecosystem Services and Management (ESM) Program

The Ecosystem Services and Management (ESM) Program is charting possible pathways to the future by linking and integrating ecosystems and their management, policy and governance, and earth observation, while building on active collaboration with many leading institutions worldwide. 

Sound land management strategies are needed to support further expansion of food production, while improving agricultural lands, preserving water resources, and protecting the large variety of natural ecosystems. Land use and human appropriation of ecosystem services for food production compete with other uses. Ignoring such trade-offs can lead to unsustainable exploitation, environmental degradation, and avoidable long-term societal costs. Transition to sustainable land use and ecosystem management faces substantial challenges. To facilitate this process, improved understanding and management of competing uses of land, water resources, and ecosystem services are required. This includes the responsible expansion of food and bio-energy production, sustaining regulating natural ecosystem functions and biodiversity, protecting and preserving global gene pools, and enhancing terrestrial carbon pools, while also accounting for diverse impacts of climate change.

The Ecosystem Services and Management (ESM) Program provides integrated impact assessment of ecosystem options for policy processes following a science based approach. ESM research combines spatially detailed modeling of land use options and ecosystem services in diverse social and environmental conditions and accounts for physical and financial flows across multiple scales. ESM is developing earth observation tools as a repository of newest verified information on the extent, condition, vitality, and dynamics of ecosystems and related landscapes. 

The ESM’s research is divided into six broad research groups:

  1. Environmental Resources and Development (ERD)
  2. Forest Ecosystem Management (FEM)
  3. Agro-Environmental Systems (AES)
  4. Earth Observation Systems (EOS)
  5. Methods for Economic Decision-Making under Uncertainty (MDU)
  6. Policy and Science Interface (PSI)

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Last edited: 06 May 2013


Michael Obersteiner

Principal Research Scholar Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313