Lydia Olander and Katie Warnell, Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Proposed Project Completion: December 2019
Implements Science Plan Theme: Adaptation
Ecosystem services, or the benefits that natural ecosystems provide to people, are inherently spatial. Mapping where ecosystem services are abundant or in short supply is useful for a variety of purposes, including land-use planning, assessment of conservation and restoration priorities, and identification of environmental justice issues. The objective of this project is to map the supply of ecosystem services (where natural ecosystems have the capacity to provide a certain product or service that could be of use to people) and the demand for those services (where people or other entities that use the product or service exist) at the landscape level across the southeastern United States. This project uses data from publicly available, national-scale sources wherever possible to allow the analyses to be easily adapted to other areas of the United States. The resulting datasets were used to generate metrics for pilot ecosystem accounts and to identify target areas for conservation (to preserve existing ecosystem services) and restoration (to enhance the supply of ecosystem services where they are needed). The target areas can be used to identify where conservation of natural areas is particularly important to maintain ecosystem services and to communicate with the public by illustrating the local benefits of natural ecosystems.