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Ecosystem Benefits and Risks Research Aides Appalachian Resource Management

Mapped products derived from the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks research, focused on water (left) and landscape values/sense of place (right); Appalachian LCC/U.S. Forest Service.
By Matthew Cimitile, Appalachian LCC

The Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and the U.S. Forest Service released products from the first phase of an ongoing study assessing benefits of and risks to the region's "ecosystem services" -- natural assets valued by people such as clean drinking water, outdoor recreation, forest products, and biological conservation. A wealth of regional data, maps, and other knowledge on ecosystem services and risks to their sustainability are now available on the “Ecosystem Benefits and Risks” website within the Appalachian LCC Web Portal. The first phase of the research provides a synthesis of existing knowledge, where users can:
  • Explore the many natural benefits – such as drinking water and recreation - provided by the Appalachian region’s diverse ecosystems;
  • Understand how these natural benefits may be placed at risk by rapid societal and environmental change; and
  • Access maps, decision support tools, assessments and scientific literature to incorporate ecosystem benefits and risks information into planning and management decisions.

Building upon this research, the LCC and Forest Service are developing new assessments to better understand how Appalachian ecosystem services have changed – and are likely to change – as a result of urbanization, energy development and other major drivers of environmental change. Future products will include a toolkit to assist managers and partners in strengthening the resilience of landscapes and their capacity to provide important natural benefits. Access the “Ecosystem Benefits and Risks” website at: http://applcc.org/ecosystem-risks-benefits.