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Individual Highlight

Scientists Quantify the Value of Ecosystem Services Provided by the San Juan Bay Estuary

Photo of San Juan watershed. Thomas Brandeis, USDA Forest ServiceSan Juan watershed. Thomas Brandeis, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : A decade long study of the urban forests and land uses within the watershed of Puerto Rico's San Juan Bay Estuary quantified the value of ecosystems services provided by the watershed's urban forests. These services include carbon sequestration, preservation of biodiversity, lowering of energy costs needed to cool buildings, and the avoidance of carbon emissions.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Brandeis, Tom 
Research Location : San Juan, Puerto Rico
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 741


Forest inventories were conducted in 2001 and 2011 in the urban forests and other land uses within the watershed of Puerto Rico's San Juan Bay Estuary. This study found that mangrove and subtropical moist secondary forest covered 12 percent of the area. This forest cover stored 319,737 metric tons of carbon and sequestered carbon at a rate of 28,384 metric tons per year. The estimated value of the carbon storage by trees in the watershed was $8.1 million with an annual carbon sequestration value of $718,113 in 2011. In 2011 approximately 19,000 megawatts of energy required for building cooling were avoided due to tree shading and climate effects in residential and commercial areas and equated to 1,900 metric tons of avoided carbon emissions due to building energy effects. The study showed that those benefits can be increased by tree establishment and protection programs or decreased by deforestation due to urban development and other activities. Proper planning and management can sustain or enhance the existing urban forest to increase the environmental and societal benefits from trees in the San Juan Bay estuary watershed.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • David Nowak, USFS, Northern Research Station's Effects of Urban Forests and their Management on Human
  • Wayne Zipperer, USFS Southern Research Station FIA and Integrating Human and Natural Systems in Urban and Urbanizing Environments Research Work Units
  • Christina Staudhammer, University of Alabama, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Francisco Escobedo, University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation