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2019 Natural Capital Symposium

Ecosystem Services in the US Forest Service

March 20, 2019 - 3:30 am to 5:00 am

Abstract: The concept of ecosystem services has been an integral part of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land management and policy-making for many years. To underscore this, in 2013, the USFS chartered the National Ecosystem Services Strategic Team to guide the USFS’ work across its 193 M acres of forests and grasslands, with three goals: 1) to integrate nature’s benefits into decision-making, analysis, and priority-setting at local and regional scales, 2) to quantify and communicate the value of resources and impacts of management actions in terms of the benefits provided to people, and 3) to better connect the providers and beneficiaries of ecosystem services. This session will highlight efforts from across the USFS, beginning with a national overview of how the USFS evaluates ecosystem services, provides direction to regions and forests, and guides research. Moving to a regional scale, we will discuss how national-level guidelines are implemented in policy and operations. We will share how ecosystem service concepts are being applied to participatory land management planning and NEPA analyses occurring in CA, OR, and WA, to make clear connections between nature’s benefits, forest conditions, and proposed projects. Next we will highlight an assessment in the Pacific Southwest Region which ties research on ecosystem services with management activities such as post-fire restoration and planning. This study quantifies and values ecosystem services across the four national forests in southern CA and assesses the impacts of fire on services to provide information for post-fire natural resource damage assessments. Then, we will summarize recent efforts to understand cultural ecosystem services provided by national forests, with a focus on approaches for mapping and modeling recreational use in WA. We will conclude with examples of how the USFS is communicating the benefits and value of national forests through infographics, restoration stories, and animations that show how people benefit from forests on a daily basis in CA. This effort seeks to share the benefits of our national forests and the risks from inaction, to incentivize volunteerism and citizen-stewardship, and generate resources to accelerate landscape restoration efforts.

Moderator: Tommie Herbert, US Forest Service

Featured Speakers:

  • Greg Arthaud, US Forest Service, National Lead for Ecosystem Service Research
  • Nikola Smith, US Forest Service, Ecosystem Services Specialist
  • Hugh Safford, US Forest Service and UC Davis, Ecologist
  • Spencer Wood, University of Washington and Natural Capital Project, Research Scientist
  • Sherry Reckler, US Forest Service, Ecosystem Services Program Manager
Session Track: 
Pathways to Impact