ARIES redefines ecosystem services assessment and valuation in decision-making. The ARIES approach to mapping benefits, beneficiaries, and service flows is a powerful new way to visualize, value, and manage the ecosystems on which the human economy and well-being depend.
ARIES is a suite of applications, all delivered to end users through the Web. All applications have been designed with the help of professional usability engineers, and are accessible through a standard web browser. Along with the main toolkit (Ecosystem Services Explorer, Valuation Database, and Biodiversity Explorer), custom ARIES interfaces can be built to simplify use by specific groups of end users.
ARIES can help improve our understanding of the value to humans of conserving high biodiversity areas. At the same time, it can help conservation planning by identifying crucial areas to protect the flow of ecosystem services to their beneficiaries. ARIES is being used in Madagascar to plan conservation and enhance its value for local communities.
ARIES can help reduce impact and engender positive change by prioritizing the conservation of ecosystem services flows to local communities and locating critical flow areas to protect and enhance in order to achieve positive offsetting of the consequences of operations. These applications can help businesses reduce liability, maintain and improve a positive corporate image, and explore new revenue streams.
ARIES is being tested, along with other ecosystem service tools, for use in comparing tradeoffs between extractive resource use and ecosystem service provision on public lands. As these lands come under greater pressure for resource use, quantifying associated ecosystem service tradeoffs becomes critical in protecting service flows to various beneficiary groups.
By accounting for biophysical flows of ecosystem services across the landscape, ARIES can link marine and terrestrial habitats as never before. For example, we can model flows of sediment, nutrients, and freshwater from land to nearshore ecosystems, allowing us to model change in provision of marine ecosystem services based on changing land use practices. ARIES’ initial marine case study is being developed in Madagascar through a partnership with UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Center.
ARIES can be used to generate scenarios to explore changes in ecosystem service provision and use based on changes in ecosystem service supply or demand. By using climate change scenarios that account for changes in precipitation or other climate variables, we can predict changes to ecosystem services under various potential climate futures.