New report is first to comprehensively measure health of nation’s ecosystems

A new report published by the Heinz Center presents groundbreaking research and a clear picture of the state of ecosystems in the United States. The report was partially funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Dr. William C. Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, chaired the committee that oversaw the research and publication of the report.

In a recent interview with the Foundation, Dr. Clark said the report pulls together a variety of data in a way that begins to create measures for the nation’s environment that are similar to measures, such as the GNP, that are used for the economy.

“There were scores of reports on particular regions, ecosystems, coastal areas and forests,” Dr. Clark said. “But there was nowhere the data was gathered at a significantly high enough level that it could be used to debate macro strategic policy direction.”

The report, titled The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems: Measuring the Lands, Waters, and Living Resources of the United States, has generated interest from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other private and nonprofit groups interested in furthering the initial work.

Sam Passmore, program officer for the Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystems program area of the Mott Foundation’s Environment program, said the report is a critical step in creating a context for future environmental efforts. “This report will help the Mott Foundation and other organizations better target their resources as they seek to address concerns about ecosystems in this country,” Passmore said.