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Individual Highlight

Scientists conduct assessment and valuation of forest ecosystem services

Photo of Snapshot : Ecosystems provide many goods and services that enable and enrich human life, from traditional natural resources, such as timber, fish, and edible plants, to the aesthetic qualities and characteristics of a place, to clean water and air. A State of the Science Review developed by Forest Service scientists and collaborators identifies the best available techniques to quantify and value ecosystem services affected by agency decisions and incorporate these results into analyses that inform major planning and management decisions.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Haight, Robert G. 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1210

Summary

A consistent finding among scientists, policymakers, and land managers is that economic valuation of ecosystem services and comprehensive benefit-cost analyses are important tools to help federal decisionmakers manage ecosystems. Forest Service scientists and their partners initiated a science review focusing on the assessment and economic valuation of ecosystem services from forest ecosystems;that is, the ability to predict changes in the quantity and value of ecosystem services as a result of specific forest management decisions. The review is aimed at forest economists and managers and intended to provide a useful reference to those interested in developing the practice of integrated forest modeling and valuation. The scientists reviewed examples of ecosystem services associated with several broad classes of potentially competing forest uses: production of timber, sequestration of carbon, regulation of the quality and quantity of water, provision of residential and recreational amenities, and protection of endangered species. For each example considered, the scientists briefly describe what is known about ecological production functions and economic benefits functions. The review also highlights the challenges and best practices in the creation and use of this knowledge. In the final section, they discuss the process, strengths, pitfalls, and limitations of utilizing integrated models for benefit-cost analysis of proposed forest management activities.