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

Nate McDowell | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

RC18-1605

Objective

The objective of this work was to demonstrate the viability of an ecosystem services (ESs; e.g., provisioning of training lands and threatened and endangered species [TES] habitat) simulation-valuation methodology tailored for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) land management. The methodology is suitable for DoD land managers and other DoD staff to estimate benefits accrued to both the DoD and the public and to identify the relationships between natural capital and ESs across DoD lands under various management scenarios to improve resiliency of installation operations.

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Technical Approach

The basic technical approach in developing the methodology (1) leveraged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Final Ecosystem Goods and Services-Classification System (FEGS-CS) to identify both DoD and public beneficiaries and the specific benefits they derive from DoD installation lands, (2) leveraged previously-performed terrestrial ecosystem succession model simulations to characterize and quantify ESs and other benefits, and (3) adapted market and non-market valuation techniques for quantification of DoD and public benefits in economic terms.

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Interim Results

The viability of the simulation-valuation methodology was demonstrated. FEGS-CS was extended to allow for inclusion of military-unique ESs and benefits. Linkages between natural process model’s predictions and ESs were established for benefits to be measured in ecosystem units. Economic metrics were associated with ecosystem metrics to identify appropriate market and/or non-market valuation techniques. Examination of previously-performed simulations revealed site-specific, small tradeoffs between carbon uptake and TES habitat at three DoD installations, and these benefits were maintained under climate warming. A proof-of-principle application of the methodology at Joint Base Lewis-McChord valued a limited set of benefits and found data and methods gaps that require further research. These gaps prevented estimation of values of all benefits. Nevertheless, the research provided a clear path to resolving these issues.

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Benefits

The simulation-valuation methodology can enable consistent quantification of benefits obtained by the DoD and the public while providing mechanistic insights into the relationships among natural capital, TES habitat, and military-unique ESs. While further research is needed to fill in identified gaps in data and methods, the methodology can be used to assess tradeoffs among land management options to enable sustained and resilient installation operations.

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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

SERDP and ESTCP

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