EnviroAtlas: Connecting Ecosystems, People, and Well-being


Malka Pattison: Hi and welcome. I'm Malka Pattison from the office of Policy Analysis, welcoming you to today's seminar. We've talked in the past about Eco Systems services, looking at valuation processes. Today, we are going to extend into geospatial element. Our guest Anne Neale of EPA, Environmental Protection Agency is going to tell us how the agency has been working with Interior and others to add a dimension that makes Eco System Service's more useful to decision makers. Annie Neale, and she told me you can call her Annie when you have questions. Annie Neale: Yes, please do. Can everybody hear me OK. Great, terrific. Thank you first of all Malka and thank you for having me. This is really exciting for me to be able to present to Interior, thank you very much. I am going to talk about this project that I've been very connected to for a quite a few years now, EnviroAtlas. And it is about linking people, health, nature and the economy. And of course, the framework that we've come become very familiar with to do that is ecosystem services. I'll just very briefly, I am going to just talk a little about ecosystem goods and services, probably, stuff that you've all heard a bit for it. But just to make sure that we're on the same page. And I am going to give a description of EnviroAtlas. What it actually is and what we're hoping to accomplish with it, some of the target outcomes and examples of some specific questions that people could ask of it, some examples of some of the data that we have been developing for EnviroAtlas, and then also some opportunities for further collaborations. This is very much of collaborative effort, but now that is it's actually this project has really grown some legs. I am hoping that this collaborative effort will keep growing and it will wind up looking something like the Multi Resolution Land, Land Cover Consortium which is multi agency effort to develop land cover data. I am going to show you, just point out, there is a slide, there's a graphic that comes from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that I think it's probably been an extremely overplayed. You see it everywhere when people are talking about ecosystem services. But, it really does a very nice job of describing the constituents of well being. Many people get jobs derived from ecosystems. We get our food and water, water protection, filtration, basic material for a good life. Ecosystem services are certainly connected to our human health and well being. I think this slide sums up very nicely the types of things that we get from ecosystems. And the millennium ecosystem assessment divided ecosystem services as to whether they were provisioning, so food, fiber. Regulating, like climate regulation, cultural, so aesthetic values, recreational values, etc. and supporting, so nutrients cycling. There's been several groups that have done a lot of work post the millennium ecosystem assessment to tweak this classification system. Ecosystem services are certainly connected to climate change. Ecosystems have the ability to mitigate public health risks from climate change. So we're incorporating this type of information into EnviroAtlas, can help mitigate storm severity and heat waves, drought, etc. flooding, water contamination. But then climate change also affects ecosystems and their ability to continue providing this mitigation service. The loss of something else that we're taking into consideration as we're developing EnviroAtlas is that the loss of ecosystem services is sometimes an environmental justice issue. And that you will that that there may be more loss of these services, disproportionate loss in environmental justice neighborhoods. This can be just something else that contributes to that cumulative community burden. And that's really aligned with the public health concept of social stresses in weakening community resiliency and increasing their vulnerabilities. So this is something we want to be able to do with EnviroAtlas is to ask environmental justice type questions. The figure on the left is basically we have a decision alternative which changes exposure to stressors, makes a change in ecosystems, changes the ecological functions, which then changes the services that we derive and that connection with human well being. In the past, a lot of the research that many of us as ecologists have done, we kind of stopped right here at this ecological functions piece of the equation without always taking it down into this human well being. So ecosystem services is about putting things in terms of human well being. And if you're able to describe impacts on human well being then, the idea is, there's more momentum to make smarter decisions. The science questions that we're trying to answer by building EnviroAtlas is; How do we quantify and communicate the production of goods and services that we get from ecosystems? What is the supply of those services in relationship to the current demand, as well as what does it look like in the future, future demand? How do drivers of change impact the delivery of ecosystem services? At a screening level, where does it make sense perhaps, to invest or prioritize, but make sure to carry it all the way through, so it's actually incorporated into decision making. And then, important to our research is, how do these services explicitly relate to human health and well being, so explicitly getting out to that end point. And we have a lot of research going on in that arena. What is EnviroAtlas actually? It's an online decision support tool that give users the ability to view, analyze, and download information related to ecosystem services, nature's benefits for the US. We are incorporating geospatial indicators and indices of the supply, demand, benefits, and beneficiaries of ecosystem services, as well as stressors, or drivers, of change. There's also a lot of additional reference data that are being built into EnviroAtlas, to put the ecosystem services into context. Things like boundaries, land cover, soils information, stream hydrography, water bodies, demographics, very, very important, and even community design, because how we design our urban communities has a big impact. If we sprawl then we're losing more in the way of ecosystem services. It incorporates all of these things as well as analytic and interpretive tools. We are developing indicators of the natural resources that are providing the services, the benefits. The benefits, a strong economy our well being, food, water, and materials, public health, and then also those things that are driving change. Policy drives change. Climate change is another factor. Land use and pollution. The EnviroAtlas is multi scaled. We're developing indicators and indices across the coterminous United States. It's wall to wall coverage and we're summarizing all of these initial metrics by 12 digit HUCs, which is a drainage basin, it's part of a hierarchical drainage basin system for the US. The 12 digit HUCs relates to about 90,000 spatial units for the lower 48. We're summarizing, initially, by these 90,000 spatial units. In the future, we hope to drive this down to NHDPlus catchments, which would be about two and a half million spatial units. Right now we are bounded by the technology and this is as fine as we can get. This figure is just a screen capture from the EnviroAtlas project, and it's just showing a very, very simple metric. It's just showing the percent impervious surface, calculated from the national land cover data, so for every 30 meter pixel, there's an estimate of how impervious that is for the US. This is just been summarized and obviously, percent impervious surface is a driver of change for many ecosystem services. On the lower figure, we've just zoomed in a little bit, to the Midwest. You can zoom in as closely as you want to, you can change the transparency, so you can see the underlying street maps or satellite imagery. We also have a much higher resolution component for selected communities across the US. We're starting out, we're hoping to have 50 populated places complete by the end of 2017. For these 50 communities, we are summarizing everything by census block group. Annie, you can see in this map that we're looking at the percent of the residential population who do not live within 500 meters of a park entrance. Then that's overlaid by the percent minority population in that same census block group. The benefit categories that are being incorporated into EnviroAtlas, the ones that we're...we're lumbers, so they're really broad categories, and then they have lots of interpretive information, trying to be somewhat of an education tool. This looks like a strange place in the middle of my presentation for acknowledgements, but I think this is important. There's a couple of points I want to make with who is developing EnviroAtlas. It is a collaborative effort, it's not all EPA, it's...We have very strong partners with USGS and with the forest service. We have partnerships with a couple of universities, with a couple of nonprofits, and there are many that do not show up on this list that we've had lots of conversations with. The groups that are listed here have actively contributed something to EnviroAltas. There's lots of room here to continue growing this collaboration. It's a very open group. We have a terrific EPA staff that is working on this. The other point that I wanted to make with this slide is that a lot of the work that is being done for EnviroAtlas...It would have been ongoing anyway, but the difference is that people would have done their research; they would have published their research in the scientific literature. The data may have been available in some slightly obscure place. What EnviroAtlas does is it brings all of that data and incorporates it into the same place. It takes the research process a step further to try to create a portal to get the information out to a wide range of users. I apologize to the folks on the phone who are looking at a PDF right now. There's a little bit of animation in this next slide. I will let you know when I'm through the animation in this. I wanted to go over the types of information that are contained within EnviroAtlas. I've already mentioned a little bit of it. I mentioned the summary maps for each community by census block group. Again, this is just percent tree cover. This is looking at the percent natural land cover in the stream buffers across the US. Taking the streamlines and looking at the land cover composition around the stream buffers. That is a good marker for clean water. It's relevant for biodiversity conservation. It's relevant for recreational culture and aesthetics. There's a number of pixel level maps that are also incorporated into the atlas. What I mean by that is that these are maps that are included in their native resolution. For each one of our communities, each one of the 50 communities, we're starting out with a one meter land cover classification. We know for every meter, whether that's forested, whether there's trees there, or whether it's impervious surface, and then calculating our metrics from that classification. That also resides in the atlas. This is what we call dissymmetric allocation of populations. We've got the Census Bureau's census data, which is an absolutely fantastic resource. The blocks and the block groups, we know the sizes are very different and they tend to be larger as you get out into a more rural community. What we've done is we've maintained the integrity of the blocks in the census data, then mapped where the people most likely are, down to 30 meter pixels. When you're looking at...When you're trying to get at the beneficiaries of ecosystem services, it's a really useful tool. There are heat maps in the atlas as well as well as the summarized maps. This is just an example and it's showing the percent impervious areas within one square kilometer of every single meter in Durham, North Carolina. This is a moving window type of analysis. There's also a number of analytical tools that are contained in the product. This one is a huck navigator. If you have an issue in a particular watershed, you could navigate either upstream or downstream and see what is flowing into your watershed or where your water is flowing out to. This is also a very useful tool, something the EPA's Office of Water certainly wanted. This one is a raindrop tracing tool. This allows you to click anywhere in the US and it'll trace a pathway to the closest body of water where the water would flow. If you've got a spill, then that could be helpful with that. It kind of falls apart in urban areas because obviously it's based on elevation models it doesn't do well with buildings, but it's a nice, useful tool. The atlas...Because we want to such a broad audience, it's important that what we communicate what we're doing in simple terms. Every single data layer that's going into EnviroAtlas has...It has, of course, what I call the more geeky, the FGDC compliant metadata. That's a given, so we have access to all of that. We have web services, so that the data can easily be streamed into anybody's desktop application, an online application. It can be used by a proprietary tool builder and streamed into their tool and served out like that. We have these fact sheets that go along with each data layer. It explains in more laymen's terms, "Why should I even care about this? Why is this important?" It's a description of what the data layer is. It is a...How could I use this information in a decision? How was this map created, in very nontechnical terms? What are the limitations of the data? How do I access it? Where can I get more information? This is also where anybody who's contributing gets credit for all of the work that they are contributing to the atlas. Actually, this is a slightly older version of the fact sheet. If you look online in the atlas, it no longer says EPA up there. It's much more generic, because we want people to feel like it's a shared product. This isn't EPA's product. Then there's also additional tools in the atlas interpretive tools. This is what we're calling an eco health relationship rouser. It is a fancy front end onto an extensive literature review that really investigates the relationships between eco systems and human health outcomes. This lets you walk through that literature review in a very user friendly way. This has been out for quite a while. There's been a tremendous amount of interest in it, so we're probably going to update it sometime this year. For the folks on the phone, I'm done with the animated slide. I'm back on the data matrix and it says up at the top "EnviroAtlas" community data. Also contained within the Atlas is this matrix of all of the data layers that are currently contained within here as a way of being able to easily find information. You can download this as a spreadsheet, so that you can sort it according to your particular interests. You can search it. Across the top is...This is all those benefit categories, that we are organizing all of our data around. For each data layer, we have an "x" in the columns, where we feel like this particular data layer is relevant to this particular Ecosystem Service category. There's probably about 300 rows in this table currently. Why are we doing this? This seems like an enormous amount of work, so why are we doing it? The target outcomes are this idea of trying to promote public health and well being, helping to identify under served and vulnerable populations, allows the user to be able to evaluate consequences of actions or in actions under different scenarios. To be able to advance the state of the science on the role of ecology and public health. One of the big reasons for doing this is to help jump start innovation just by providing data. A lot of the data layers that are contained within EnviroAtlas would take...if you didn't have some really high speed computing and dedicated GIS professionals, some of these data layers could take months to develop. By putting this together, we are putting all of this information out in a very readily usable format. The data are downloadable. I mention we're publishing everything as a web service, which means that anybody can just take one of our data layers and put them in their own application or tool. It's out there. It's freely available. We are publishing all of these layers to EPA's GO platform. I know there's a federal GO platform that is well under way. I think there's a "Livestream" event in April about the federal GO platform that Jerry Johnston is giving. What we're really hoping, and we're already seeing some evidence of this, is that other groups are going to say, "Yeah, well, I think what you did is pretty cool. That's a nice data layer, but you know what? I could do so much more if I put it into my tool." That's what we're really hoping to see. This provides a resource for educators and students. For graduate students it pushes them forward faster because they don't have to spend months compiling some of these data layers. This idea of boosting environmental intelligence...So using "Green" infrastructure sometimes instead of "Grey" infrastructure, trying to encourage "Systems Thinking" so that people think about some of the co benefits or dis benefits of a particular decision, as well as unintended consequences and this idea of increasing community empowerment by just providing these resources to them. There's a lot of stakeholder groups...A lot of groups would like to be making better decisions but really have a paucity of information. Quickly, just some specific questions that this could answer. Things like: Where do I have impaired water bodies and inadequate stream buffers? Where's agriculture not buffered before it enters a water body? What's the demand for drinking water in my community and what is that going to look like 50 years from now. What are the point sources upstream of where I'm currently withdrawing my water? Where could I restore wetlands? Where would I gain the most value? Where would I increase ecosystem services? Where do I have critical ecological resources and are they currently protected? On the community level, things like: Where do I have a lot of children, who have no access to parks? Where do I have a high number of people living in close proximity to really busy roadways that are not buffered with tree cover so they are getting exposed to more air pollutants? What are the public health benefits of ecosystems in my community?" Another good reason for doing this is this PCast report to the president. This was the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In 2011 they wrote this list of recommendations to the president on sustaining environmental capital and protecting society and the economy. What we're doing with EnviroAtlas and what we're doing with Ecosystems Services program across the federal government really speaks to these recommendations very well. If you haven't looked at this, this is a very interesting report to look at. So the general status of EnviroAtlas: It's been out for beta testing since June of 2013. We've had about 550...actually, it's more like 650 thanks to this seminar. So we've had about between 650 and 750 folks, who have signed up to be beta testers. They come from a very diverse background as you can see from this graph at the bottom. Everybody from educators to public health, non profits, government agencies. About 20 percent of them came from EPA, not surprisingly. We also asked folks in the beta test what they would likely use the EnviroAtlas for and that information is summarized in the graph on the right. The chart at the top left of the slide is showing the status of the data layers that we currently have in EnviroAtlas that folks can look at, use, view, download, et cetera, and then which category of ecosystem services are they relevant for. So there's about 160 in the national component and about 95 in the community component and it's complete for about six communities. There's lots of additional data and tools and functionality that are also underway. It's been panel peer reviewed and we're expecting to release it hopefully either later this month or next month. As I said, it's available for beta testing pretty much to anybody. I want to talk about some of the example data layers that are contained within EnviroAtlas. I'm going to start with some data layers that are relevant to the category of "Biodiversity Conservation." Also many of them are relevant in the "Recreation, Culture, and Aesthetics" category. And some of them are even relevant in the "Food and Fiber" category in the atlas. This is work that we have been doing collaboratively with USGS. In my mind this has been an incredible success story. We've been working with the USGS Gap program, the program for keeping common species common within USGS. I think it was probably around 2010 a few of us met in Reston and we came from USGS Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA. We did some brainstorming about how could we take the individual species habitat models that have been developed through the Gap program for species all across the US. How could we look at that, turn it around a little bit, and look at it more from an ecosystems services perspective. So try to put the species that the Gap program has modeled into suites of species that we care about for some reason. We did that brainstorming back in 2010 and I've been working with Kevin Gergely and Ken Boykin at New Mexico State University. He and his group have been doing a lot of the work. And Bill Kepner of EPA in Las Vegas...and actually there are some handouts that I think have gone around the room for some of these biodiversity metrics. That's a fact sheet that summarizes some of the biodiversity metrics that are now currently in EnviroAtlas. We came up with a suite of indicators. Some that we knew we'd be able to do, some we knew would be a little bit more challenging. And then Ken and Bill and others, and Kevin, Alexa McKerrow, also of USGS, went away and spent some time developing them, initially for the southwest. And then they held a series of stakeholder workshops, which included federal agencies, it included state agencies and included non profit groups, academia. And asked them, "OK, are we on the right track? Is this useful?" And listened to feedback, both in a stakeholder group in the southwest and then another one in the southeast. Then Ken and others have developed a series of maps for the EnviroAtlas. This is just hot off the presses and this one is not actually in EnviroAtlas yet but it will be shortly. The Gap program has now modeled bird species across the US. The Gap program, as you probably know, started out with a regional focus, but they now have a much more of a national focus. Individual habitat models for birds have been developed across the US. This map is showing bird richness. Again, this is the predicted habitat mapping using inductive modeling. This is just showing bird richness likely for every 30 meter pixel that the habitat could support. This is a little bit different because here we are just looking at the birds of conservation concern as from the state of the birds report from 2011. So there's a list of birds that are listed as "Birds of Greatest Conservation Concern." We've culled all the birds and are just looking at this suite of birds. So we're seeing numbers of birds...the species habitat for these birds across the US. What we will do is then summarize this by 12 digit and it will go into the Atlas. Again very similar this is a "Partner in Flight" bird list. This is numbers of birds that are from the Partners in Flight program listed. Again this is summarized based on the habitat requirements adequate species habitat for this number of birds across the US. This is looking at the harvestable species for the southeast. If you are a hunter for food subsistence this is the total number of harvestable species again based on the Gap species models for the southeast. This part of it has been done for the southeast and the southwest with the vision of completing this for the nation as soon as all of the individual species habitat models have been completed. Going back to some observational data, this is looking at T and E and imperiled species from the State Heritage data. We also have a partnership with NatureServe. So, it's summarized by 12 Digit HUC, and this is the aquatic species, a relative ecosystem rarity ranking based on some research that was done in RTP looking at relative rarity of ecosystems. This is a very broad look at the EnviroAtlas with no depth at all. Each one of these data layers has got at least an hour long presentation behind it. So I want to give you a flavoring of a lot of the different types of information that is in EnviroAtlas, because I hope that you're going to be interested in it. This a fragmentation map that's in there for the nation. We used a GUIDO software to do a spatial pattern recognition. This has been done for the nation several different ways. It shows you areas where you may have core, or bridges, or land that for some reason you may want to protect, or maybe it's OK to use it for something. This is just another tool that's in there to help with decision analysis. Carbon storage, just changing gears completely. It's a long list of ecosystems services that we have information for. This is just showing carbon storage and above ground biomass. We're using the wood's whole national biomass and carbon data set that will be, hopefully, updated soon. This is a stressor on clean water. This is looking at nitrogen applied as manure across the US, if you're a water quality modeler, interesting information. We've had lots of discussions with the SPARROW Modeling Program at USGS. I definitely consider them amongst our collaborators, synthetic nitrogen as synthetic fertilizer across the US, in kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year. Stream length impaired by metals, this comes from the EPA impaired water bodies information. So there's impaired by nutrients, impaired for temperature, and this one is just showing impaired for metals. This one is a very interesting one. This one has been the results of a fairly extensive research looking at the agricultural area that would be more readily restorable, looking at the soil types, looking at the topographic position index, picking out areas that are really likely to be wet. So it's potential wetland restoration, the makeup of the stream buffer, the amount of agriculture across the US that doesn't flow through a natural buffer before it enters a water body. We're starting to look at recreation demand. It's really important that we have demand metrics in here and beneficiaries, as well as the ecosystems services supply. So, we are using the resources that we can find down there. We're using these great products developed by the Forest Service and by the Fish and Wildlife Survey. They're recreation surveys that have been done. We're adding that our to decametric population data that I mentioned. Mapping people down to the 30 meter pixel, also using Esri Business Analyst information, which gives you what people are spending money on, consumer spending. It also gives you revenue by types of companies. So, we're just starting to investigate that as a way of getting at some of these socioeconomic indicators. That work is also well on the way as a research project, communities, I think I'm just going to fly through these. Tree cover, mapped it at one meter. I've already said this is our first community with Durham, North Carolina. Square meters of tree canopy per person, a slightly different way of looking at it. The estimated residential population with less than a five percent tree cover within a 50 meter view shed. There's lots of literature out there that is really starting to illustrate the health and well being that we get just from being able to see green space, to have access to it. On the right hand side, it's the percent tree cover, also showing the percent of the population who is over 70. If you're worried about heat island issues, high heat, this may be an area where you could perhaps help select where you might want to plant more trees. On the left hand side, the percent of the road kilometers in each direction that has less than a 25 percent tree cover within 26 meters of the road ditch. Then, on the right hand side, taking that to the people who are affected and looking at the population that lives within 300 meters of what is designated as a busy road that has insufficient tree buffer. Ozone removal, on the upper right, by tree cover, on the lower left, looking at the reduced ambient temperature on the hottest day of the year, at two o'clock in the afternoon. So, looking at the reduction in that ambient temperature provided by trees. Then, on the right hand side, the percent change in stream flow due to tree cover. For a lot of these community metrics we are partnering very closely with the Forrest Service and using their i Tree tool. Then, also using an EPA tool, BenMAP, which then takes the information that we get from i Tree and converts that to human health benefits. This is a couple of maps. The one on the left is from Tampa, Florida. This is looking at walking distance to park entrances. We would really like to add something like this, but driving distances to public lands, places where people can go and recreate. This is a pretty fine scale analysis. This is what we're just doing for our community. So, this is heat maps of walking distance to park entrances for Tampa and for Portland. Our future plans are definitely to expand our collaborations. That's always something that we want to do. Develop multi metric indices, so let people take a suite of indicators. We're going to can a bunch of these, but, then, allow them to develop their own user defined index values based on the indicator values that are available. Provide additional socioeconomic and environmental data. Obviously, we're not even close to being done. Display climate and land cover scenarios going out into the future and, then, apply those to some of the ecosystem services indicators. Enable uploading of local data into EnviroAtlas. That's something that we've heard very loudly from stakeholder groups. They want to be able to incorporate their own data, incorporate citizen science, which I know there's going to be a lot of hurdles involved in that. But that is a direction that we would really like to go, and we need help with. And, obviously, improve the functionality. It's not done yet. Just some examples of some of the graphs that we hope to include in the future, but it's things that you can do currently if you download the data. You can look at relationships of different sectors of the population to different endpoints, or do a block group comparison or a Huck comparison. All of the data are available. This is just an index tool that's well under development. Allows a user to create index values and then map them. So, if you wanted to look at relative value of different ecosystem services category for the same spacial unit, this tool would help you do that. It's in there now as experimental, but we wouldn't really want anyone making serious decisions over that. There's many opportunities to collaborate. There's anything that falls within the benefit categories that we've highlighted, linkages between ecosystems and human health, we think is absolutely huge. The development of additional spacial analysis tools that can just plug in, from an IT perspective, it's becoming a plug and play world where interoperability is a new standard. Developing spatially explicit indicators, there's a huge number that still need to be developed. Very big is developing use cases or case studies. Taking data that are in EnviroAtlas, using it with other data, and answering some questions on the ground. Then, what we're doing with that information is developing story maps so that we can, in an easy way, show other people how to use the data. Making it interoperable with other tools, also, there's plenty of room for non spatial tools in EnviroAtlas, as well. All right, and that's it. Thank you. Malka: We're going to start with question from the room and go alternatively to the Internet. So, please raise your hand if you have a question. I'll be by with the mike. Malka: Any questions on the Internet? Participant: Thanks, Annie. We were wondering if you could tell us how people could become a beta tester. Annie: Sure. Actually, at the very end of the slide there it says, "Beta test at." You can just go there and sign up to be a...I should have mentioned that. Thank you for that question. At the bottom of the slide there's a web address. You can go there and sign up as a beta tester. We're hoping to take the password and the user ID off very soon, but you can still fill out the beta. We always want the beta test survey. We really want the user to be defining where this project goes in the future. Participant: Thanks. Could you also speak a little bit about how people perceive and use urban green space? Annie: How they perceive and use it? Sure. Sometimes, I think that people aren't even totally aware that they're using urban green space. It's a part of their lives. They use urban green space, certainly, for parks. Some of the things that urban green space provides for them, people aren't generally aware of, like helping mitigate water runoff, filtering air pollutants. Does that answer the question? Participant: Yes. A couple of folks on the Internet are interested in knowing about perceptions and attitudes, about ecosystem services. So maybe you could continue in that vein? Annie: Sure. That's an interesting question. I've given a talk on this project to many, many, many different stakeholder groups. We've never had anybody push back and say, "We don't like that." I think that the term "ecosystem services" doesn't resonate very well with the public. It's something that we found out. I think that the HTML that we have built around the Atlas has been built to... We're careful about how we put things. We talk about nature's benefits a lot. So, this is maybe not a hard ecosystem services line that the EnviroAtlas is taking. It's a kind of a softer line. We tried to explain why ecosystem services are really important. We've also had interest from other groups who would like to connect valuation tools to the EnviroAtlas. It depends on the group. I would say that community stakeholder groups are probably more resistant to ecosystem services than have been nonprofit organizations. To me, it seems like nonprofit groups have embraced ecosystem services pretty fully. Participant: Thanks. How will EPA be coordinating with educators to develop plans to use the Atlas? Annie: That's a great question. We actually have a couple of university professors who are part of the beta test community. Now there's an individual at Pratt Institute who has developed some class curriculum around EnviroAtlas. He's doing some testing for us by using it in the classroom. He's very open with the work that he's done. So, we hope to just take the class activities that he's put together and incorporate those into the HTML of EnviroAtlas, perhaps using some story maps. We really hope that they'll be a lot more cases like that, where we have help from the user community. I'm in EPA's Office of Research and Development. It's not really something that we are very good at, as developing education curriculum. We're really hoping that their user community is going to help. We're also reaching out to NEEF, which is a National Environmental Education Foundation. That's an opportunity that's just getting started, as well. It could be through a collaboration. Participant: Thank you. How about invasive species? Do you have any data layers that focus on invasive species? Annie: Great question. We don't yet, but there's an individual at EPA who is very interested to start, at least, with aquatic invasive species. He is bringing on a postdoc to work on that, with the hope that we'll be able to develop some data layers for the Atlas. We're hoping that we will go towards invasive species in the future. There's always room for collaboration. It is an area of weakness. There's really very little in there right now that speaks to invasive species. It's a good area for development. Participant: How about economic values? Are there any of those included in them? Annie: There are a very few included in the community component. Economic value can be market value. It can be a dollar value. It can a non market value. If you're asking about assigning dollar value to ecosystem services, we are only doing that in a very limited way for some of the BenMAP outputs in the community component. We are hoping to engage with other tool builders who have expressed interest to get to that market valuation. It's not something that we're currently planning on incorporating. Unless something jumps out at us, it's very difficult to do that across the US. In fact, it would be impossible for us to do that across the US, at the moment. We just don't have enough information, but it's something good to aspire to. Participant: Thanks. Do you have any plans to expand beyond the conterminous 48 states into Alaska, Hawaii? Annie: We do, but I don't know what the time line of that is going to be. There are some of our indicators. We do have them for Alaska and Hawaii, and we are incorporating them where we have them. The problem has been that we have felt that it was really important to use data that was consistently available across the US. The problem with Hawaii and Alaska is that they typically don't always have the same data that everybody else has. That's changing. I understand that the upcoming impending release of the national land cover data that will be put out for 2011 does cover Hawaii and Alaska. In the future, we probably will expand it. Participant: What's the release date for that? Annie: For the national land cover? Participant: National land cover. Annie: I think it's supposed to be at the end of this March, actually. It's supposed to be March 2014. I just saw a presentation on it the other day. It's really exciting looking. It looks like there's a lot of improvements and many more planned for the future. We're really excited to get our hands on it for the EnviroAtlas. Participant: Thank you. We have one in the room. Annie: OK. Participant: Thank you. Rob Winthrop, BLM. Annie, thank you very much for an excellent presentation. Could you say just a little more to expand on your comment about concern or push resistance from some stakeholder groups regarding...? I wasn't sure whether it was this tool in particular or the ecosystem services concept in general? Annie: It was more the ecosystem services concept in general. It's mostly a question of getting that information out there. Some of our community stakeholders have pushed back a little bit on the ecosystem services framework, just because it's not something that they're used to thinking about. When we have explained it, they've embraced it. But I think it's just a little bit of push back. Participant: We have another question from the Internet if you have time. Annie: Sure. Absolutely. Participant: Could you talk a little bit about how a policy maker might use this EnviroAtlas to plan for climate resilience? Annie: That's a great question. That's a tough question. That one, I think I'd have to think about that a little bit. How could a policy planner...One of the things that we hope to include as part of this partnership with USGS and the Gap program is this idea of being able to map climate vulnerable birds, to add that to the metrics. It could help you identify where you may have vulnerable ecosystems. What we'd have to do to answer that question is get together a bunch of people in a room and really brainstorm it. That's not really something I can just answer on the fly. I think that there's probably many data layers in the Atlas that could certainly help answer that question, but it would take a more well thought out answer than I can come up with on the fly. Participant: I also have a technical question from the Internet. What's the interoperability format? Can users overlay it...? Annie: Sure. The interoperability format is that all of the data layers are being delivered as web services, in addition to making them downloadable. So, you can go and download the data and use the data as you want. But they're are also published as these web services, which means that they're out there on a cloud, and you could be sitting on your GIS desktop, and you can bring in these data layers to your GIS desktop without having to download any data. And actually "Stinger" Guala the Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation platform that's been developed in USGS for species occurrence he's actually done some really cool maps, where he intra operatively has pulled maps out of Bison and maps out of Enviroatlas and mashed them up in the same map. He looked at wolves and some of our land covers metrics. We're making data very, very easy to share. There are guidelines on the website for how to develop tools that work with EnviroAtlas. That's another way that we're making it interoperable. Malka: Thanks. Are the data available to be used right now? Annie: That's a great question. The answer I should say is, "No." It will be just a couple of weeks, but there's nothing to stop somebody going and playing with the data and looking at the data online. There's a caveat that you have to agree to, but there's absolutely nothing to stop people getting on there and pulling the data into their own application. It's all been peer reviewed. It's just waiting on a briefing that I need to give in a couple of weeks. This product has kind of taken on a little bit of a life of its own. It's received a lot of attention from high levels, and so because of that we're just being extremely cautious before just taking the password and the user ID off. Malka: Understandable. Annie: But, yes. You can use the data right now. Malka: How about your slides? Will we be able to post those on our website, or make those otherwise available to the viewers? Annie: Sure. Yes. No problem. Thank you very much. Malka: Thank you. If there's not any more questions in the room, I'm going to ask one. Annie: OK, great! Malka: This is a little parochial, but I didn't see Park Service, and I heard talk of parks. Do we need to make a better connection? Annie: Yes. Actually that is a great, great question. And I have had some discussions with some parks service folks and there's been mutual interest but so far it hasn't really materialized into a working partnership. Part of that is because one of the individuals that I've been talking to has left the park service and gone elsewhere. Also, I received an email just last week from somebody in the parks service from the Healthy Parks Healthy People Initiative. And I'm absolutely thrilled about that. Yes, I'm thrilled about that connection because I think that we could do a much, much, much better job working with the park service. The park service could help us considerably in some areas where we just are not very well informed, so yes, definitely. And that's really the idea behind this, to try to draw the expertise from where it exists. But sometimes it's really, really challenging to find the right person to talk to within an agency. Then that relationship needs nurturing and there are managers that have to approve and so it makes so much sense to leverage expertise from different agencies. What a powerful resource for decision makers to not have to look in 500 different places, through pages and pages of federal agency websites and to be able to know that they can go to a particular website and find just a wealth of information. There is an effort right now to develop something called ecosystems.data.gov and that will EnviroAtlas along with the and MRLC will all be part of that and I imagine there will be a lot of other hubs that will be added to that, as well. It'd be great if people had better access to data. Malka: Well Annie, I want to thank you very much for joining us today... Annie: Well thank you. Malka: ...and sharing your slides and... Annie: Thank you very much. Yes feel free to contact me anytime. Thank you very much.

Speaker: Anne Neale, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EnviroAtlas Lead Topic: EnviroAtlas: Connecting Ecosystems, People, and Well-being

This seminar will feature a discussion on the EnviroAtlas, a web-based application of geospatial data, analytical tools, and interpretive information on ecosystem goods and services. Examples of ecosystem goods and services include clean water, timber, habitat for a wide variety of species, flood and disease control, carbon sequestration, recreation, and cultural and spiritual resources. EnviroAtlas is a multi-organization collaborative effort with a growing list of partners, including DOI's United States Geological Survey. Anne Neale, Lead for the EnviroAtlas effort, will discuss how the EnviroAtlas will allow DOI and its partners to access data to help identify current levels of ecosystem services in the conterminous United States, the beneficiaries and demand for those services, and the expected levels of services under future scenarios.