Ecosystem Services on Public Lands - Partnerships for Healthy Ecosystems
Photographs showing changes in the configuration of the Redwood Creek estuary, California. The photos are from 1948 (A) and 1988 (B), and show that the area of estuary has decreased and a deep scour pool no longer exists.
Society places a high value on the vital services we receive from our public lands such as clean air and water, pollination, recreation, and environmental education. Some vital services are only now being recognized as valuable such as the increased capacity for carbon sequestration in well managed ecosystems. Other vital services are known to be critical but are poorly quantified, such as the cooling and irrigating effect of fog. Preserving the natural capital stocks of public lands, such as vegetation, soil carbon, and water resources, requires understanding how these stocks vary over time and quantifying the underlying ecosystem processes that drive the variations. Unfortunately, due to constraints of expertise, time, training, and funding, few managers are prepared to undertake the scientific investigations required to understand these processes and how to use this understanding to improve land management decisions.
We are working closely with natural resource managers in the National Parks along the California coast to 1) use a historical ecology approach to characterize landscape change over time, 2) identify and quantify those ecosystem processes that are critical for maintaining vital ecosystem services but are poorly understood, and 3) link the patterns of change to land management activities and climate. Project products include workshops with resource managers, new datasets that integrate archival records, scientific publications, and video-based tutorials for park resource managers (available online at http://tinyurl.com/cqbwt6f)