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Panama leads Latin America in ecosystem services science

November 19, 2012

Panama leads Latin America in ecosystem services science

In 1997, the term 'ecosystem services' first appeared in a scientific paper concerning research in Latin America

In 1997, the term 'ecosystem services' first appeared in a scientific paper concerning research in Latin America. Since then, the number of publications that discuss how modern economies rely on the services of nature – such as carbon sequestration and fresh water – has climbed dramatically.

In a review of ecosystem services (ES) science in ten Latin American countries published online in Ecosystem Services, Panama trails only Mexico by total number of publications. With over 200 ES articles each and more than double any of the remaining countries, it is clear that Panama is a leader in this research field.

“This is a story about STRI and its century of work in Panama,” says STRI's Jefferson Hall, one of the paper's coauthors, explaining STRI researchers' tradition of investigating a wide breadth of natural ecosystems.. Hall directs STRI's Panama Canal Watershed Project, or Agua Salud, a large-scale land-use study that explores ecosystem services in the tropics.

“Scientists and policy makers have recognized that ecosystems provide a suite of services needed by people,” says Hall. “At Agua Salud we're trying to understand the mechanics of service production across land uses as well as tie in the social and economic aspects of these interactions.”

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