The Beach Outfalls Challenge is a public prize competition sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). MORE

Ecosystem Service Benefits

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Most folks have read or been taught that ecosystems are important, though perhaps what they aren’t aware of is why that is so.  The reason we as a society are constantly striving to conserve and restore ecosystems is that these places provide benefits to us, to society and to the communities in which we live. These benefits are grouped into four categories: supporting services, provisioning services, regulating services, and cultural services.

Supporting services are ecosystem services that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services. These services include benefits like nutrient recycling and photosynthesis. These services are often overlooked, but without these processes, the other ecosystem services would not exist.

Provisioning services are often what people first think about when they think of services provided by nature. Food, raw materials, water and minerals are all direct products of ecosystems.

Regulating services are services that make life possible on Earth. These services include pollination, decomposition, water purification, and carbon storage. These processes work together to regulate natural phenomena.

Cultural services are non-material benefits that the environment provides to society. These services include the role that the environment plays in different cultures and the influence the environment has on art, music, and architecture.

What do ecosystem service benefits have to do with the Beach Outfalls Challenge?

20161212-blogpost-2_imageCurrently, the beach outfalls act as conduits for stormwater, providing very little ecosystem service benefits to the communities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The goal of the Beach Outfalls Challenge is to enhance Mississippi’s ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity of the Mississippi Sound by improving water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation. MDEQ has determined that the solution to improving water quality in the Mississippi Sound lies in a solution that takes into consideration ecosystem service benefits.

Registration for the Beach Outfalls Challenge opens January 9, 2017. Learn more about the Beach Outfalls Challenge by visiting the ABOUT Page of this website. CLICK HERE to receive periodic updates with additional details as registration approaches.

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