Title

Ecosystem Services – Valuing Our Natural Capital in the West Branch Susquehanna Watershed

Item Type

Poster

Location

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Session

Poster session

Start Date

26-10-2018 8:00 PM

End Date

26-10-2018 10:00 PM

Keywords

West Branch Susquehanna River, ecosystem services, economic value, geospatial analysis, watershed functions

Description

Ecological services (ES) have been a focus of research worldwide, in an effort to estimate the value to humans of natural ecosystems, including services such as habitat for commercial species; erosion control; nutrient cycling; and carbon sequestration. Their benefits to society are widely accepted, but procedures are needed to quantitatively link those services to societal values (Costanza et al., 1995). Quantifying ecosystem services can guide public agency decisions about protecting environmental systems and direct investments into aspects with the greatest value to society. Federal, state, regional, and local agencies use a wide range of methodologies to evaluate ecosystem services, many of which emphasize specific topic areas depending on the agency’s goals. This research critically reviewed several ES valuation methods and assembled a comprehensive methodology encompassing multiple topic areas. One specific objective was to test methodology by applying it to a specific target area: the region drained by the West Branch Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The second specific objective was to assess data and valuation methods to identify those where available data or previously-tested methods are not adequate to reliably compute ecosystem service values, either in general or for the specific target region. Findings include: a) Well-defined topic areas developed by Kauffman et al. (2016) for the Delaware River basin include recreational values; extractive resources; water supply resources; agricultural production; and related jobs and wages. b) Flood mitigation services are included in project decisions by FEMA (2016). c) Although geospatial data sets such as land use/ land cover are widely available at very fine resolutions, procedures for translating land uses to financial values are less precise, derived from personal-value studies such as contingent valuation; willingness to pay; and value-transfer. This research provides an initial analysis and conceptual foundation for anticipated future ES studies in the Susquehanna watershed. It provides a guideline for targeted academic research to create linkage analyses where needed that will extend the method to further topic areas, refine the methods and acquire additional data for the target region, and assess applicability for other regions.

Language

eng

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Oct 26th, 8:00 PM Oct 26th, 10:00 PM

Ecosystem Services – Valuing Our Natural Capital in the West Branch Susquehanna Watershed

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Ecological services (ES) have been a focus of research worldwide, in an effort to estimate the value to humans of natural ecosystems, including services such as habitat for commercial species; erosion control; nutrient cycling; and carbon sequestration. Their benefits to society are widely accepted, but procedures are needed to quantitatively link those services to societal values (Costanza et al., 1995). Quantifying ecosystem services can guide public agency decisions about protecting environmental systems and direct investments into aspects with the greatest value to society. Federal, state, regional, and local agencies use a wide range of methodologies to evaluate ecosystem services, many of which emphasize specific topic areas depending on the agency’s goals. This research critically reviewed several ES valuation methods and assembled a comprehensive methodology encompassing multiple topic areas. One specific objective was to test methodology by applying it to a specific target area: the region drained by the West Branch Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The second specific objective was to assess data and valuation methods to identify those where available data or previously-tested methods are not adequate to reliably compute ecosystem service values, either in general or for the specific target region. Findings include: a) Well-defined topic areas developed by Kauffman et al. (2016) for the Delaware River basin include recreational values; extractive resources; water supply resources; agricultural production; and related jobs and wages. b) Flood mitigation services are included in project decisions by FEMA (2016). c) Although geospatial data sets such as land use/ land cover are widely available at very fine resolutions, procedures for translating land uses to financial values are less precise, derived from personal-value studies such as contingent valuation; willingness to pay; and value-transfer. This research provides an initial analysis and conceptual foundation for anticipated future ES studies in the Susquehanna watershed. It provides a guideline for targeted academic research to create linkage analyses where needed that will extend the method to further topic areas, refine the methods and acquire additional data for the target region, and assess applicability for other regions.