An ecosystem services approach to managing public lands

More grist for trhwe discussion mill: A new Science Findings report from the PNW Research Station, “What people value: an ecosystem services approach to managing public lands.”

Description: Since 1960, the Forest Service has been guided by the multiple-use concept, which recognizes five major uses for public lands—timber, water, range, recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat—and mandates that all five should be equally considered in management plans. In recent decades, however, it has become evident that people also value many other benefits offered by the natural world, such as support for indigenous cultures and sustainable communities, protection for endangered species, and carbon sequestration. The “ecosystem services” concept has emerged as a way to describe a much broader suite of goods and services, including those that are more difficult to quantify than the traditionally recognized major uses.

The 2012 Forest Service planning rule requires that ecosystem services be addressed in assessment and planning. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest Research Station are working nationally and with individual forests to apply ecosystem services approaches to operations and management decisions. They are working to characterize commonly overlooked values, provide incentives for sustainable practices, and encourage inclusive, collaborative policymaking methods to ensure that input from stakeholder groups and individuals is considered prior to implementing management actions. In a recent general technical report produced by station scientists, the Deschutes National Forest is used as a case study to explore the application of the ecosystem services concept as described here.

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