Value and Resiliency of Ecosystem Services on Department of Defense (DoD) Lands

Nate McDowell | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory



The objective of this project is to provide a proof of concept of a mechanistic, predictive, and adaptable valuation approach to enable Department of Defense (DoD) land managers to quantify the resilience and benefits of ecosystem services (ESs) under alternative land-management options. DoD’s need to maintain resiliency of testing and training lands under increasing environmental and land-use pressures can be addressed through a valuation-based framework that serves to protect the land as well as DoD uses of the land. Assessment of the potential relationships between natural capital and ESs depends on rigorous identification and quantification of these variables and appropriate consideration of interdependencies and feedbacks among them. This project will provide a proof of concept for process model simulations of ESs that can be used to identify the relationships between natural capital and ESs across DoD lands, and provide information for valuation analyses within a DoD-specific simulation valuation framework. This proof-of-concept framework will provide a basis for land managers to effectively value accrued benefits to the DoD and the public from DoD land stewardship.

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Technical Approach

This research couples ecosystem-process model simulations of natural capital and ESs with a framework to enable valuation of ESs on DoD lands. The generality of the approach will be tested using existing simulation data at three ecologically disparate DoD bases (Fort Benning, Camp Navajo, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord) to quantify four ESs: carbon storage, nutrient storage, species diversity, and habitat suitability for threatened and endangered species (TES). This approach will be examined using existing data sets and validated LANdscape Disturbance and Succession model (LANDIS-II) simulations for the early 1900s through 2100. LANDIS-II has been used successfully at these sites to examine wildfire impacts and mitigation strategies. LANDIS-II output will be used within the DoD-specific framework that draws from the Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS; Landers and Nahlik 2013). The FEGS-CS approach will be used to inventory ESs over spatial and temporal scales relevant to the environmental services and to identify beneficiaries specific to DoD lands. The approach explicitly accounts for eco-hydro-climatic interactions and feedbacks for the four ESs via process dynamics in combination with FEGS-CS. Economic/monetary valuation will be used for ESs where available and alternative valuation approaches will be used for further research where valuations are not available.

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The benefits to DoD from the simulation-valuation framework include consistently (1) developing ESs inventories, predictions, and management options across DoD installations; (2) accounting for all beneficiaries that value ESs on DoD lands; (3) valuing ESs provided by DoD lands; and (4) providing a common basis for evaluating the trade-offs of alternative land-management options. To the larger science community, this research will contribute toward (1) explicitly incorporating interdependencies and feedbacks among eco-hydro-climatic interactions via process-based simulations, (2) developing alternative ecosystem service valuation approaches, and (3) providing necessary databases for improved trade-off analyses. The return on investment of this project will be a proof of principle using three installations to demonstrate a consistent approach for the valuation and management approach to ESs for DoD lands.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Nate McDowell

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Phone: 505-412-7158

Program Manager

Resource Conservation and Resiliency