The objective of this limited-scope Statement of Need was to initiate an analysis of the relationship of natural capital and ecosystem services delivered though the management of Department of Defense (DoD) test and training lands and the associated benefits that accrue to the DoD, the broader ecosystem, and society at large.
Specific research objectives included the following:
- Definition of the appropriate boundaries and scale to support the analysis, functional definition of services provided, and delineation of the biological, physical and chemical services provided to include natural and nature-based features that provide benefit.
- Understanding of cumulative effects, feedbacks and compensatory behavior of systems dealing with lags in the development of impacts, benefits and value, especially as related to management of natural ecosystems and biological diversity.
- Examination of models that incorporate economic concepts and that may improve decision-making that balances training requirements, land stewardship, costs, legal drivers, and coordination beyond installation boundaries, even in cases where the benefits cannot be monetized.
Limited-scope proposals were sought to develop proof of concept or conceptual approaches to the analysis of the relationship of natural capital and ecosystem services on lands managed for defense purposes. Proposers were asked to specifically state the rationale for their analytic research approach, describe their understating of current practice, and explain how their analytic conceptualization would result in new insight into the relationship of ecosystem services and natural capital associated with the management of DoD lands.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.
The benefit of this proposed work is the potential for improved valuation and management of DoD infrastructure and DoD’s continuing efforts to improve focus, generate positive change, and improve the velocity of infrastructure and acquisition planning.
The recognition of ecosystems as valuable capital assets is not new. The study of renewable resources and the value of natural areas has been examined since the latter half of the twentieth 2 century. Today, these ideas continue to mature in the context of ecosystem services and in broad areas of study which include ecology, global change, economics, and policy. The integration of these areas, moreover, has given rise to important, but as yet incomplete, advances in valuing natural capital. There is a broad awareness that environmental stewardship creates a flow of ecosystem services that provide benefits to society as a whole (e.g., sustainable food production, biodiversity enhancements, water purification), but valuation remains challenging. In short, despite the progress and its importance, full consideration of natural capital in environmental management and decision-making has not been realized. Lacking quantification, the benefits remain unaccounted. Quantitative approaches have been developed for substantiating these benefits yet none of these approaches focus on the dedicated environmental stewardship at defense installations.
Nonetheless, the DoD manages natural ecosystems on nearly 28 million acres of land as a means to provide realistic training environments. The ecosystems at the DoD occupy a range of landscape types, including deserts, coastal areas, and Arctic systems. Moreover, the DoD complies with all federal legislation and regulations, including the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended). Remarkably, given the unique challenge of providing realistic training lands, and managing Threatened and Endangered Species (TES), military installations support significant populations and a disproportionately high number of TES relative to acreages of other federal land management agencies DoD lands support a range of benefits such as increased biological diversity, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and other valued functions and processes. To date, however, there has been little investigation into the ecosystems services value provided by DoD land management and stewardship.
In summary, the benefits derived and accrued by the United States in possessing a trained and ready force appear obvious, but the value of these capabilities in relation to and dependence on ecosystem services and natural capital delivered though the management of test and training lands remains to be analyzed in detail. Correspondingly, the ecosystem services and benefits produced through the management of defense lands for national defense purposes, but accruing to society at large, have not been analyzed
Limited-scope proposals for funding up to $200,000 and duration of approximately one-year are sought. Such proposals may be eligible for follow-on funding if they result in a successful initial project.