Accounting for U.S. ecosystem services at national and subnational scales

Science Center Objects

Ecosystem services - the benefits that nature provides to society and the economy - are gaining increasing traction worldwide as governments and the private sector use them to monitor integrated environmental and economic trends. When they are well understood and managed, ecosystems can provide these long-term benefits to people - such as clean air and water, flood control, crop pollination, an...

Ecosystem services - the benefits that nature provides to society and the economy - are gaining increasing traction worldwide as governments and the private sector use them to monitor integrated environmental and economic trends. When they are well understood and managed, ecosystems can provide these long-term benefits to people - such as clean air and water, flood control, crop pollination, and recreational, cultural, and aesthetic benefits. Within the U.S. government, a memo issued by the White House Council on Environmental Quality in October 2015 charged agencies with incorporating these values in planning, investment, and regulatory processes.

Natural capital accounting - a tool being used in dozens of countries globally and by the private sector - tracks changes in ecosystem services and directly ties these changes to costs and benefits across different economic sectors. Yet, the compilation of a data, modeling, and valuation infrastructure to support natural capital accounting in the U.S. has not yet occurred. This working group will build on these international standards, completing three synthesis activities that build a foundation for a national natural capital accounting system. We will first compile existing natural capital accounting-relevant data nationwide, linking and quantifying environmental-economic trends over time. We will next run national scale biophysical models of ecosystem services using a cloud-based modeling system linked to national spatial datasets hosted by USGS and others. Finally, we will apply natural capital accounting at the subnational scale, within a landscape managed by multiple Federal agencies and for which economic data to value ecosystem services are available and policy applications are apparent.

Our approach will provide a rigorous and replicable assessment process to support more sustainable natural resource management for Federal agencies and the private sector. Finally, we will identify uncertainties, data and methodological gaps, and next steps needed to advance natural capital accounting science and policy applications in the U.S. and beyond.

This group is co-sponsored by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.



Publications:



Bagstad, K,J., Zachary H. Ancona, Julie Hass, Pierre D. Glynn, Scott Wentland, Michael Vardon, John Fay, Integrating physical and economic data into experimental water accounts for the United States: Lessons and opportunities, Ecosystem Services, Volume 45, 2020,101182, ISSN 2212-0416 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2020.101182.



Boyd JW, Bagstad KJ, Carter Ingram, J, Shapiro CD, Adkins JE, Casey CF, Duke CS, Glynn PD, Goldman E, Grasso M, Hass JI, Johnson JA, Lange GM, Matuszak J, Miller A, Oleson KI, Posner SM, Rhodes C, Soulard F, Vardon M, Villa F, Voigt B, and Wentland S; The Natural Capital Accounting Opportunity: Let's Really Do the Numbers, BioScience, , biy135, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy135



Russell M., Rhodes C., Van Houtven G., Sinha P., Warnell K., Harwell M.C. (2020) Ecosystem-Based Management and Natural Capital Accounting. In: O’Higgins T., Lago M., DeWitt T. (eds) Ecosystem-Based Management, Ecosystem Services and Aquatic Biodiversity. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45843-0_8



Warnell, K., Russell, M., Rhodes, C., Bagstad, K.J., Olander, L.P., Nowak, D.J., Poudel, R., Glynn, P.D., Hass, J.L., Hirabayashi, S., Ingram, J.C., Matuszak, J., Oleson, K.L.L., Posner, S.M., and Villa, F., 2020, Data Release for Testing ecosystem accounting in the United States: A case study for the Southeast: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9MF0K9X

Related Data Release.



Wentland, S., Z. Ancona, K.J. Bagstad, J. Boyd, J.L. Hass, M. Gindelsky, and J.G. Moulton. 2020. Accounting for land in the United States: Integrating land cover, land use, and monetary valuation. Ecosystem Services 46:101178.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212041620301200





Group Participant Photo in the mountains

Principal Investigators:

Kenneth J Bagstad (USGS - Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center)

Jane Carter Ingram (Ernst and Young)

Carl D Shapiro (USGS - Science and Decisions Center)

Participants:

Justin A. Johnson (University of Minnesota)

Monica Grasso (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Scott Wentland (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

James Boyd (Resources for the Future)

Glenn-Marie Lange (World Bank)

Kirsten Oleson (University of Hawaii)

Brian Voigt (University of Vermont)

Charles Rhodes (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

François Soulard (Statistics Canada)

Michael Vardon (Australian National University)

Ferdinando Villa (Basque Centre for Climate Change)