In Montgomery County, Maryland, officials had to decide how to plan urban growth while protecting the Chesapeake Bay. At the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia, refuge managers wanted to enhance the potential for carbon sequestration while understanding and balancing the needs of wildlife and visitors. In both cases, taking into account the goods and services provided by ecosystems was key to determining how to proceed. The use of an ecosystem services framework in decision making can be an effective approach for balancing diverse and often competing objectives. Please join Interior's Office of Policy Analysis on September 8 for their monthly speaker series, which will feature Dianna Hogan from the USGS Eastern Geographic Science Center, for a discussion of the barriers, challenges, and opportunities to using an ecosystem services framework in decision making.
Malka Pattison, Diana Hogan
Malka Pattison: Good afternoon and welcome to the office of Policy Analysis seminar. I am Malka Pattison. Today, we are going to be talking about ecosystem services again. We've to bring them close to your home.
Our speaker, Dianna Hogan, a research scientist from the US Geological Survey, is going to be talking about applications of ecosystem services to Montgomery County planning and managing a wildlife refuge, the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia. Dianna, please.
Dianna Hogan: Thank you. First I just want to take a second to thank this group for inviting me to speak today. I really look forward to this opportunity to share these ideas with you and get some good feedback from you. The title of the talk is "Ecosystem Services Frameworks: Protecting the Chesapeake Bay and Providing Carbon Sequestration."
Today, what I'm going to talk about are ecosystems services and decision‑making. Not to give away the end, so perhaps this is a spoiler alert, but it's not perfect. However, taking the goods and services provided by ecosystems into account when you're making decisions really does help balance these diverse and often competing objectives that decision‑makers are typically faced with.
What I'm going to do today is first talk about how we set up an ecosystem services assessment, I just have a few slides on that, and then I'm going to focus in on the two applications that I want to talk about today.
The first one is on Montgomery County, Maryland, where we're looking at planning urban growth while protecting the Chesapeake Bay. This is a really interesting application to talk about. We've made it through an entire cycle of adaptive management in this particular application.
In that cycle of adaptive management, it's been really instructive and interesting to watch how decision‑makers look at ecosystem services, how they can use ecosystem services in their decision‑making and how they interpret that as important to what they're trying to do.
The second application is in Great Dismal Swamp, as Malka mentioned, and in this application we're looking at enhancing the service of carbon sequestration on public lands, while quantifying the ecosystem service tradeoff, things such as wildlife and tourism and those kinds of ideas.
But in both of these applications, the idea of accounting for these goods and services provided by ecosystems is really key to determining how to proceed and move forward with their decision‑making and land management.
This slide is talking about ecosystem services and just giving some definitions of what ecosystem services are. Basically, ecosystem services are the benefits that humans derive from nature, and "humans" is the important part. So it's what is important about nature for people. People is what we're focusing on. On this slide, I have one different way that people typically might categorize ecosystem services.
There are a number of different ways to categorize ecosystem services. This is just one idea such as provisioning services, clean water, timber that kind of thing. Regulating services, hazard mitigation and climate change mitigation. Cultural services might include aesthetic enjoyment or recreation services and then supporting services will include things such as soil formation or nutrient cycling.
What is an ecosystem services assessment? In general, it's just an inventory. It's an estimate of a selected set of ecosystem services. What the quantity, quality and value of those services are. We do this in order to help understand the benefits provided by the natural environment and this improves our ability to be able to preserve those benefits or at least understand what we're trading off in our decision making.
It's generally done as an integrated assessment. Typically, you'll have an economic analysis and environmental analysis and the social analysis that you are trying to integrate ‑‑ often it's GIS‑based.
Ecosystem services assessment isn't really a new idea. I have a quote here from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that's almost a decade old at this point. It's not a new idea, but it is something that is important and being used in decision making.
A figure for ecosystem services assessment might look something like this. You have a baseline condition where you look at the selected set of ecosystem services. Look at what their ecological benefits are, you quantify those, look at their economic and social aspects and you compare your baseline assessment to some kind of scenarios assessment in your decision, as a function of the management action or land use decision for example, two that we're going to focus in on today.
You do the same kinds of analysis for your selected set of ecosystem services. You look at the ecological benefits which might help get us some quantities. Carbon sequestration have attacked and then look at the value to people of those ecosystem services.
The two applications I'm going to talk about today, they both use this kind of format or framework for pulling together the ecosystem services, but they actually appear quite differently because in every ecosystem services assessment you get...what's going on locally. What's important with the stakeholders? What the questions and mandates are in that particular application and that creates assessment that looks a little bit different for every kind of application that you're faced with.
Let's launch into the first application I want to talk about. This one is my Chesapeake Bay application. We're focusing in on Montgomery County, Maryland.
This application is looking at planning urban growth while protecting Chesapeake Bay. The figure on the right side of the slide here shows the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it's the colored area with Chesapeake Bay located here.
There's a number of different activities going on in the Chesapeake Bay watershed right now that are designed to help improve or preserve the ecosystem services that are in the watershed and in the Bay.
However, human population in the Bay watershed continues to grow and along with that growing human population, you get an increased conversion to impervious surface cover due to urban land use. Along with that, you get the increasing strong water runoff of pollutant loads that flow off the landscape and into the Chesapeake Bay.
This figure here on the right side of the slide shows the percent of private force expected to increase in residential development by 2030 and just shows the increasing trend of the increasing human population in the Bay watershed. The same kind of idea is happening for the agricultural component as well.
The area photographs that you see on the left side of the screen show the same study area. This is one of the study areas we're using for this particular application.
It's hard to see but in the center near the bottom of both of these figures, you see a little red dot. This is the same area in 2002 versus 2010. That little red dot, if you can make it out, is the US Jetstream gauge that we're using for analysis and the blue lines in each of the figures show where the streams are in this particular study area.
What this is showing you, is from 2002 to 2010, you can see the decrease in the agricultural and forested land that is becoming developed in to a suburban area at about 35‑40 percent impervious surface cover.
In this application, what's going on is, when we're looking at developing areas in this particular study area in Montgomery County, Maryland, and we're watching how they develop, and their using green infrastructure to try to replace ecosystem services. This is an area that's developing using adaptive management.
What they're doing, is they're looking at the effect of land use change and mitigation that green infrastructure on ecosystem services. In using the adaptive management, they've got a big study area, they developed small areas at a time, and they do it in stages.
They develop one area. They study the effects of land use and green infrastructure, take the adaptive management learning from that and apply it to other areas. The idea here is that green infrastructure is being used to replace the ecosystem services that are lost from the environment when it is converted to urban land use.
Things that might include water quality, fresh water supply, flood protection, air/soil/water quality, and open space. This area is developing in stages using adaptive management. Some of the figures from this particular slide, especially this here, are borrowed from a presentation that was given as a part of this seminar series about two years ago.
I have a little citation here that Ken Williams was here talking about adaptive management. In general, adaptive management is an iterative learning‑based approach used to adapt to the consequences of land management. A good way of thinking about that is learning by doing and adjusting management based on what you've learned.
You have your management action, you monitor the consequences of that management, and then you use what is learned to improve future land management decisions. This is just a bigger view of this study area we're using in Montgomery County, Maryland. This is the one that they're developing in stages using adaptive management.
They've developed some of these watersheds earlier with the best available green infrastructure and land use patterns and then used that information to improve what they do, how they develop in the upcoming watersheds. Looking at the effects of development intensity and green infrastructure on ecosystem services.
They set up this adaptive management as part of their master plan of development for this area about 30 years ago now, come to think of it. It's been about 30 years ago. At that time, they set themselves up to do this adaptive management using the best available green infrastructure and information as it became available, as they were developing.
Over time, what they're able to do as they continue to develop this area, go back and revisit and create amendments to their master development plan for the area in order to use this adaptive management learning.
While using adaptive management to address the uncertainty about the ability of green infrastructure to preserve or provide ecosystem services and adapt that future development. Specifically, they divided this up. This is the way they put their ecosystem services assessment using the environmental, economic, social, and they also added in a traffic kind of tradeoff.
That isn't one of the usual suspects, the traffic one is not the usual things that they consider. However, all ecosystem services assessments take into account the local stakeholder and the local decision maker needs in what's important in those particular areas.
At the planning stages, they identified goals related to how development and the use of green infrastructures affect those ecosystem services.
Just a quick aside of the green infrastructure because I've been using that term for the last few slides. I just want to make sure that we're all in the same base with that.
If you think about a pre development landscape, no urban development on it, when rain falls on that particular landscape, that rainfall will enter either in wetlands or may be treated or may be infiltrated to ground water.
There's a lower percent of that storm water that actually flows off the surface flow. But, post development, you have a higher level of impervious covering your water shed, a lot of your rainfall is converted to storm water runoff and it flows off to the surface of the land carried with those access pollutants centers the problem in local streams as well as downstream estuaries.
That rainfall can either be converted to storm water and directed to just directly to streams which is engraved or in the best management practices and there's new specimen management practices or what I'm referring to is green infrastructure.
This is really the state for practice for storm water runoff management. This is the green infrastructure and that is the action that we're using here to replace the water related ecosystem services in these urban environments.
As doing that by increasing this infiltration and water treatment that you had pre development trying to replicate some of those services, we're focusing on services that includes some of the ones that I have listed here.
I have mentioned before, water quality, water provision, air and soil quality, open space, flood control, those kinds of ecosystem services. The green infrastructure, that's what we're monitoring and adapting as the development continues in this area.
Just as a note, the newer green infrastructure that their using in this area, Montgomery County, they call Environmental Site design. That's really still green infrastructure which a lot of the photos that I have on this slide.
They do a lot of individual property management using this green infrastructure. Such that, each individual property is designed to try to infiltrate and treat this storm water that falls on each of these properties. It's a bit more intense than what has been done before.
The ecosystem services in this case is being done for decision support, the decision is to allow development at the intensity in that original master plan while using green infrastructure or scale back the intensity while still using that green infrastructure or environmental site design as they call it.
Their desired outcome of these ecosystem services assessments ‑‑ achieve community building goals. Economics, that's the jobs, the transportation, while protecting the watershed or supporting the healthy stream.
As part of their ecosystem services assessment, what they did was identify alternatives, development scenarios and they did some analysis associated to those. This is really interesting because we have the decision to find.
We're showing what the decision is but we want to look at what the decision was as seen from the decision maker point of view. This is how they see what their job is supposed to be as a decision maker. In their words, and I'll paraphrase this.
The decision makers must first understand the effects of what will happen if we do the whole build out using that original plan. Reconcile the uncertainly, the ability of environmental enhance techniques to mitigate development with very low confidence level.
There aren't a lot of watershed level green infrastructure or environmentally sensitive design applications out there to learn from. Filling here works with green infrastructure you know that to be the case. The third is to decide how much environmental impact is acceptable.
The fourth is to sort out through those competing policies and determine balance. They're looking for a balance between environmental, social and economic aspects.
People that moved into some of these areas that were developed earlier, relied on development in that master plans, specifically there was a shopping mall in the transit center in that original master plan. However, as I mentioned, there were caveats in that master plan.
That was part of the adaptive management part of it. One condition was to study water quality as we went along to see if that green infrastructure was effective at protecting it and protecting those ecosystem services. The fifth one I think is very well put.
Overall, consider how we hang together as social, economic, and environmental unit. The sixth one is about trading. Are there options of trade treatment for different parts of the watershed? Now, in this particular application, I'm not aware of the sixth option here being traced in a kind of way. I don't know anything about water quality or nutrient trading. But, it was an idea that the decision makers brought up at this point.
Overall, consider how we hang together as a social, economic, and environmental unit.
As I mentioned before in their ecosystem services assessment, they had four different trade outs that they were looking at. The ecological, which was to look at assessing existing water quality and natural resources, analyze potential impacts of development and the use of green infrastructure and that was adapted management learning.
They did a lot of modeling and analysis, hydrologic, pollutant load, natural resource, and back to that figure, they compared those baseline ecosystem services that they were studying with the scenarios of the different land use intensity.
The land use scenarios were all looking at different development patterns in different levels of impervious cover in these watersheds that are going to be developed. All were using that environmental sensitive design.
After their analysis, they found that the probable outcome would be a loss of reference strain conditions with the greatest impact on headwaters. This is not great when using that original master plan scenario with green infrastructure.
The original master plan scenario in meeting the areas in the watershed, there were about 25 to 40 percent in impervious surface cover so it's quite high.
The economic tradeoff and the analyzed potential market and economic impacts and scenarios with these one, the outcome was the decision makers perceive the stakeholders wanted the development to particularly that new road transit center and shopping mall.
For social, they held a number of meetings with their stakeholders and the community. They had the opportunity to go to in‑person meetings. They also had online abilities to contribute to the decision.
They looked at environment, economy, community building and transportation, so did that community input.
On this slide, I'll show a photo of one of the outcomes from one of those stakeholder meetings where they looked at critical, important, or peripheral, on these different ideas that they were talking about based on all of the alternatives that were presented to them.
Outcome, completed community. The environment is very important, but so are shopping and improved transit that we were expecting to move in this area.
Traffic transportation, this is just looking at traffic and transportation issues in the scenario for using tradeoff analysis and the beneficiaries setting aside is interesting in this particular assessment.
They were looking at trend and future watershed, local and regional residents. Be it the global impact or visitors to the area were beyond the scope of the analysis done in this case. The outcome from Montgomery County, Maryland, I think it's a scope from the amendment to the master plan scenario.
The most effective way to protect the unique environmental resources is to combine the advanced storm water management techniques of environmental site design with actions to significantly reduce the amount of land disturbed by development.
In general, what they did was the decision maker scaled back the development from that original master plan to protect ecosystem services as a result of that adaptive management learning. They recognized that the development would negatively impact those ecosystem services.
That even included the use of that green infrastructure or environmental site design. But, it wasn't adequate. They actually took it all the way down to a six percent impervious cap in the most sensitive areas in the watershed to be developed, 15 percent in some areas that were already partially developed.
But, they increased density in the areas that were developed in order to increase open space and bring that overall total of impervious covered just over six percent in the watershed which is a huge, huge change in the original master plan.
They also are using incentives to increase forced cover. They weren't able to mandate this and the amendment but they're trying to go from 50 to 65 percent in this particular watershed. Protecting ecosystem services is a constraint on the goal of allowing economic development as a result of this particular assessment.
This affects both local and regional Chesapeake Bay condition and the ecosystem services that resolved. Just a couple of observations about this ecosystem services assessment, objectives were defined by the council who are the decision makers.
The components of the ecosystem service assessment includes all the usual suspects, the ecological, economic, social added in the traffic aspect. These tradeoffs were defined by the stakeholders and the decision makers in this case.
The potentially affected ecosystem services in this case represented to the decision makers and the stakeholders by those doing the analysis. However, what's interesting about the ecosystem services in this case is that they were called environmental impacts.
Many of them were actually intermediate processes rather than final services. They would use things such as water quality, evapotranspiration, carbon sequestration, surface and ground water flow, habitat, soil structure.
These kinds of ideas aren't often as easy to link to outputs that people value in an ecosystem services assessment, where the usual complaints tight timelines for doing the analysis in decision making.
This last observation actually comes as a result from an analysis that friends, some of the colleagues that resources for the future did when I presented this idea to them.
It was that the development decision that was made might actually shift the benefits from the current to the future residents. What that means is that we can reduce the environmental benefits for current residents, shifting some of that to housing and job for future residents.
I'm going to quickly go into the Great Dismal Swamp application, give you some information on that, so we have some time for discussion after the presentation.
The Great Dismal Swamp application, switching gears. This is actually the ecosystem services assessment here's actually part of a much larger project in the Great Dismal Swamp. We have a number of partners. I have listed it on the screen here.
The desired outcome of this particular assessment is to enhance these ecosystem services of carbon sequestration on public lands while quantifying the ecosystem service tradeoffs, things such as wildlife visitors and that kind of thing.
We're doing that by changing the management of the hydrology in Great Dismal Swamp and fishing wildlife is leading that up. The USGS is helping out with carbon research and this ecosystem services assessment. In general, what the USGS is doing is estimating carbon storage influx in representative vegetating communities in the Great Dismal Swamp.
We're doing a lot of carbon and hydrologic research detailed on the ground kind of analysis, looking at remote sensing all to get at a better idea at that carbon storage influx in the different vegetation communities in the Swamp.
We're looking to estimate the effects of that refuge hydrologic management by fishing wildlife on carbon sequestration, fire management, and establishing selected types of vegetation communities. That's the project.
All of that information feeds into the ecosystem service quantification and evaluation exercise. Here, we're looking to identify the ecosystem service tradeoffs given that alternative management and doing an analysis of the integrated social, economic and environmental consequences of that land management.
The overall goal is to inform how hydrologic management affects carbon storage, what approaches may restore selective vegetation communities and improve those ecosystem services that we select. This is the figure that shows the ecosystem services assessment.
It's just a good guideline for this. What we're interested in is the potential changes in selected ecosystem services over time given that hydrologic management. As we did before, what we're doing is comparing the baseline conditions to a scenario conditions, the scenario being in hydrologic management decisions, looking at the ecological quantities.
In this case the amount of carbon sequester, perhaps fresh water supply and nutrient removal, those kind of ideas, and looking at the economic and social value to people for clean water, climate change mitigation, reduced fire and flood.
The objectives of this ecosystem services assessment are to estimate the quantity, quality and value of ecosystem services, understand how ecosystem services maybe impacted by management activities, so that's the tradeoffs.
Understand how the Great Dismal Swamp national wildlife refuge affects communities, visitors, and others. What are the benefits to the Great Dismal Swamp that are most important to these stakeholders?
Along was a potential ecosystem services where offered to the stakeholders. We had a pretty diverse stakeholder group that we were working with. We had people from local cities from the neighboring departments same with the States, federal agencies, national level refuge and environmental groups, academia, and environmental nonprofit agencies.
The ecosystem services that rose to the top were the ones that I have listed here. Biodiversity wildlife viewing, education, nutrient cycling, flood protection, carbon sequestration, fire mitigation, and recreation, biking, hiking, boating and that kind of thing.
One thing that you might be able to see right off is that we have a bit of overlap between the important ecosystem services that were identified. For example, recreation, biking, hiking, and boating, wildlife viewing might also be considered recreation.
But, in this case, wildlife viewing specifically meant bird watching, for Great Dismal Swamp, that's one of the most important ecosystem services that the stakeholder group identified, it was bird watching. Now, biodiversity might overlap with that of bird watching.
We have those kinds of overlaps that are actually very instructive to helping us set up the proper ecosystem services assessment. Decision objectives and goals were defined. I mentioned already that we had some overlaps between the stakeholder‑selected ecosystem services.
But, that actually helps with decisions being informed given the objectives that are important to decisions, decision makers and stakeholders goals. We have it clear focus on the benefits that people derive from nature, able to link the environmental processes with value.
I just want to call a conclusion looking at both of these projects that we're looking at today, both of the applications. Today, what we looked at were the ecosystem services frameworks in Chesapeake Bay and Great Dismal Swamp.
For Montgomery County, looking at planning urban growth while protecting Chesapeake Bay, looking at Great Dismal Swamp, enhancing the services of carbon sequestration on public lands while quantifying the ecosystem services tradeoffs like the biodiversity and those kinds of ideas.
Both of these applications had a different focus or a different structure with the way we pull together that ecosystem services assessment. There are a number of different ways to approach ecosystem services assessments based on the objectives and motivation for the assessment.
One of the biggest ideas that I brought forth from this is this next point. Looking at the stakeholder, the decision maker preferences and the expectations and requirements. This is very important because who you have in the room, where you have your meeting and what questions you're asking, how these stakeholders are informed is key.
One thing that you might have noticed on the previous screen, if I'll get back on the screen, is carbon sequestration came in as number six with the importance of...these are actually in rank order form the stakeholder meeting.
Carbon sequestration came in at number six. That was actually carbon sequestration is the main point to have as doing the ecosystem services assessment in that area.
However, when we were doing in the introduction for ecosystem services assessment, we gave a little overview of the project why we were there, what are our goals were.
In that case, I think we actually biased our ecosystem service stakeholders into rating carbon sequestration lower in this particular analysis. They knew we're going to look at that. They knew it was covered.
They wanted to throw their weight behind other ecosystem services that may not get as much attention but are really very important in this tradeoff analysis. I think that as a learning moment from me.
Finally, just a conclusion, I just want to say that accounting for the goods and services provided by ecosystems is very important thing to do because their land management and land use decisions that are being made do directly affect those ecosystem services.
Those land use decisions and land management happened regardless of whether or not you're able to pull that into your analysis. This is my final slide. Thank you very much for your attention and for the invitation to be here. Let me mention my contact information is at the top of the screen.
I'm looking forward to interacting with a number of you with questions and whatever feedback you might have for this ecosystem services assessment. I have a lot of names here on the screen.
The one that I just want to pull out just to mention is the first one looking at the ecosystem services assessment help from Emily Pendillon pulling that together because she did pull a lot of the graphics that I showed in these previous slides in this presentation.
With that, thank you very much and I look forward to your feedback.
Malka: 28 slides in 30 minutes.
Dianna: She told me. I should get it done in 30 minutes. But, I think it's all right.
Malka: Congratulations. Any questions in the room? If you could say your name and your office please.
Audience Member: , with the National Invasive Species Council, although my question won't be regarding species.
I found this fascinating and interesting because you're taking the concepts that I've heard about, like ecosystem services assessment and adapt with management, how does it work in real time and my question is under Montgomery County one where it's basically telling the time frames because you're looking at the development.
The impacts are getting today with that in ecological impacts and feeding it back into a policy process. Meanwhile about economics, politics and everything else, driving the bigger machines, I'm curious to talk a little more about some of the time frame about how these all got integrated?
Dianna: Absolutely. The original master plan was put into effect in the Montgomery County area. I think they call it the Clarksburg in Hyattsville master plan probably misremembering the exact name of that master plan.
But, that was put into place in 1994. At that time, back in 1994, they developed an area that they called the Clarksburg Special Protection Area. It's a little hard to see on this slide given the lighting in here. But, I'm outlining it now.
There's a shaded green area right in here that is the Clarksburg Special Protection Area. Within that area, this was an area that was primarily forest and agriculture back in 1994. They went in to do an assessment of the streams in ecosystem services in that area that time that they found very high quality streams in that area.
They're still going to develop the area but they're going to do it while trying to protect those ecosystem services that are present in that environment. They started developing in stages.
The Clarksburg master plan set up the development to happen in stages so that they could develop one area using state of the art best management best practices or green infrastructure, learn from what's happening there and then use that information to develop in another area.
What we did in the USGS and EPA with a number of academic partners is we went in and we set up study of watershed within the Clarksburg Special Protection Area. This is one that I showed on the previous screen.
They started development back in, well in 2002 it wasn't developed, they started development back in 2004. We got our stream gauges in place and we started to help out with the monitoring of what was going on as these areas developed, while trying to protect the ecosystem services using green infrastructure.
One of the big unique things about this study area is that they're using green infrastructure of the watershed scale.
That's not being done so much, it's starting to be done more at this time. The green infrastructure's typically used as retrofit but in this case we're using it at the watershed level.
Development in this area started in about 2004, 2005, got slowed down because of economic recession which helped us catch up a little bit in our monitoring and our assessment. I guess it finished development in about 2010.
At that time, this particular watershed outlined in green, which is the Ten Mile Creek watershed was slated to be the next one to be developed. But, they wanted to do the adaptive management learning from what happened with the green infrastructure in the previous watersheds.
In about 2010, we started to pull together the information, economic and the environmental information to present that to decision makers.
That is what resulted in the amendment to the development that they're going to put in the Ten Mile Creek watershed, which is the one that I mentioned having the six percent impervious cover cap, which is a huge decrease in the original master plan.
As for timing, I guess we finished development here in about 2010, they called for, looking at amendments to the master plan at about that time and it's only just as of April 2014, been approved. Those amendments have just been approved.
They were supposed to begin development in this Ten Mile Creek watershed, the newest one, I believe in 2012, not entirely sure on my memory on that. But they did delay ‑‑ the decision makers, in this case, the commissioners ‑‑ did delay the development so that they could finish the analysis and finish the decision making and be sure to give the stakeholder input pulled into that as well.
It's pretty rushed as it is but that's how that timing went on that particular adaptive management cycle and decision making.
Audience Member: Could you please tell us a bit about the management decisions regarding carbon sequestration that came out of the Great Dismal Swamp analysis?
Any management decisions regarding carbon sequestration from the Great Dismal Swamp analysis?
Dianna: Those management decisions haven't been made yet.
We're doing the carbon monitoring now, to try to help inform those management decisions, so we don't have those decisions ready for you just yet.
JC Wild: I'm JC Wild from Fish and Wildlife Service. I wanted to ask you how you spoke or your folks spoke to the stakeholders about the value to humans of the biological services like, biodiversity, did you have any kind of metrics or was it a qualitative value that you discuss with them?
Dianna: We're talking about the Great Dismal Swamp application, in that case, looking at biodiversity, what we did was we gave a overview of a number of different services and I just can't recall.
Maybe 30 or 40 services that we put up there, and we went through each of this services that may be important to decision makers and stakeholders.
One by one and talked a bit about what we meant by biodiversity.
In this case, looking at biodiversity, one of the most important things about biodiversity is the uniqueness of Great Dismal Swamp.
The uniqueness of the plant community and the vegetation community, and the different wildlife that can exist in the Great Dismal Swamp.
They have black bears in Great Dismal Swamp, they have Atlantic white cedar in Great Dismal Swamp.
This used to be an environment that was much more common in Southern Virginia, Northern North Carolina where the Great Dismal Swamp is located, but agriculture in urban development, changing hydrology in the system has made this Great Dismal Swamp be a very unique kind of system.
That was actually feedback that our stakeholders gave us. The uniqueness, the importance of the biodiversity in Great Dismal Swamp.
The way we describe all the different eco system services was much general. They defined what biodiversity meant, the uniqueness.
Wildlife viewing was another one, bird watching, I think we had that in there, but that came out as extremely important.
Education was one that we didn't even have in there. That wasn't the one that we had offered up but it was something that the education value of Great Dismal Swamp probably because of its unique biodiversity and the ability for wildlife viewing that you don't get in other areas in near to Great Dismal Swamp is what brought that in.
We gave them a very general list and they told us what was important. It was actually a very efficient way to do this.
Carbon sequestration falling down to number six, I guess we told them too much about why that was important so maybe they didn't think we needed more information on that.
JC: Just to follow up, was there any attempt to give an economic value to any of those biodiversity wildlife viewing?
Dianna: That's the next step for this analysis. We'll be working on, on looking at evaluation.
Audience Member: We have another question from one of our Internet viewers, could you elaborate on how USGS is modeling carbon storage influx by vegetation community?
Dianna: I'll elaborate on how we're modeling that.
We are actually still exploring a couple of different models to pull together that exercise. I don't have real details that I'm ready to share on our modeling expert or modeling work just now. But that's something we're working on, we're defining it based on four different vegetation communities in Great Dismal Swamp.
We're focusing on carbon cycling in the environments, Atlantic white cedar, the maple gum communities and in one other vegetation community that's escaping me at the moment.
We're focusing in on how carbon is cycled in all of these different kind of vegetation communities and we'll pull together that more at the end, once we have the information on hydrologic management.
Malka: Any questions in the room?
Audience Member: I'm not convinced that the fact that you got carbon sequestration at number five or six or whatever. Six, I guess.
Audience Member: Was because...
Dianna: Because I did the bias...
Audience Member: Yeah I think you might have biased towards having sequestration.
It really isn't clear to me because frankly I think a few organizations and you had some favorite outcomes. I think I would probably give something to you provided you put my favorite one wildlife variety...
Dianna: I think that's exactly what happened.
But you're saying perhaps this is truly the way they felt that carbon sequestration was not as important as...
Audience Member: No...but I might make it less important.
Dianna: You might have made it even less important?
Audience Member: That's right. Because trying to get a bunch of equal and you did mention carbon sequestration...
Dianna: Oh if that even came out in the analysis at all.
Audience Member: No that's it.
Dianna: Yeah, that's it. That's a good way to look at it. I just can't imagine it wouldn't be the most important that, right?
Malka: Anymore questions in the room?
Well Dianna, thank you very much. You did the impossible.
Dianna: Thank you.
Malka: A complex topic, lots of beautiful slides in within the time frame.
Dianna: Thank you for the opportunity.
Transcription by CastingWords