Most military bases occupy large areas of undeveloped or sparsely developed land relative to surroundings. These lands and their concomitant ecosystems provide a wide range of valuable services to society including flood protection, habitat for plant and wildlife species, recreational opportunities, and carbon sequestration. This project will support the Department of Defense (DoD) in determining the value of these ecosystem services (ES) and in considering them explicitly in future decision-making through accomplishment of the following specific objectives:
1. Apply ecosystem science and modeling to enumerate the ES value that military bases provide to neighboring communities in the form of biological, physical, and ecological goods and services;
2. Develop computational models to predict the impact of alternative land-use, land-management (LULM) activities on the future provision of ES, accounting for uncertainty, biophysical interactions, and cumulative effects;
3. Advance economic methods for translating ES values into more complete benefits estimates by accounting for threshold effects, tradeoffs, and risk attitudes in describing decision-maker and stakeholder preferences;
4. Deliver a generalizable and user-friendly software tool, along with effective documentation and training, that will support DoD base managers in valuing, enhancing, and communicating ES delivery.
The recent Limited Scope Project (LSP), RC18-1604, served as a proof-of-concept for this research by developing and demonstrating a workflow for translating military base LULM decisions into ES valuations. This involves using conceptual models as the basis for computational simulations of biophysical and hydrological processes, with results expressed using benefit-relevant indicators (BRIs). These BRIs are then converted into monetary values using direct and indirect economic methods. In the LSP, this workflow was applied to Eglin Air Force Base to reveal the provision of substantial ES value. In this project, the project team will leverage the LSP to develop, demonstrate, and deliver a much more comprehensive and user-friendly program called MoTIVES (Model-based Tracking and Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services) that can be applied to any military base to assess, enhance, and communicate the value of ES being delivered to neighboring communities. This outcome will be achieved through accomplishment of the following tasks:
A. Test the current workflow on 3-5 additional bases for which appropriate data are available. Consultation with base staff and stakeholders will reveal any further model development needs.
B. Improve model and scenario formulations as needed to produce ES valuations that are accurate and salient to stakeholders. In addition to expanding the representation of biophysical processes, the project team plans to account for additional determinants of ecosystem service value, including attitudes toward risk, multiattribute interactions, and threshold effects.
C. Ensure generalizability and scalability through: application to 4-6 additional bases, standardization of the process of converting military data into model inputs, and development of a user interface.
D. Operationalize MoTIVES as a user-friendly software platform by delivering documentation and a hands-on training program to DoD natural resource managers.
Successful development, demonstration, and delivery of MoTIVES will allow the DoD to more effectively and efficiently document, protect, and enhance the provision of valuable ES to surrounding communities while ensuring the continued availability of necessary military training and testing conditions. A key scientific contribution of this project is the employment of a network model for holistic and rigorous accounting of ecosystem feedbacks, interactions, co-benefits, and cumulative effects. This is especially powerful when paired with state-of-the-art representation of the often overlooked, but highly influential, personal and cultural determinants of ES value.