climateServices_grayNature provides a vast array of goods and services for free to people — from clean water and air to places of recreation and spiritual significance — however, the value of these services is rarely taken into account in decision making process because no economic market exists for these benefits. The emerging framework of ecosystem services is an attempt to better understand and, if possible, quantify the flow of nature’s goods and services so that managers can better evaluate trade-offs when making complex decisions that affect the environment. Part of the this framework involves the development of “ecosystem market mechanisms” where landowners are financially compensated for keeping their lands healthy and functioning so that they will continue to deliver ecosystem services, such as the provision of fresh water to downstream users, the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or pollination of agricultural crops. SIG helps clients in every stage of the process of implementing ecosystem service-based decision making, from initial scoping, to detailed analytics, to market mechanism development, to communication with stakeholders. SIG can help clients integrate ecosystem services and natural infrastructure values into their decision making process by offering the following services:

Project Scoping

  • Identifying topologies (assigning ecosystem service types) and establishing a common vocabulary
  • Delineating study area boundaries, conducting literature reviews and synthesis, and identifying data gaps
  • Convening meetings and workshops to establish key stakeholder priorities and issues

Ecosystem Services Quantification

  • Placing monetary worth on ecosystem services using primary valuation methods or value transfer
  • Conducting dynamic spatial modeling of ecosystem service flows to beneficiaries (i.e., people)
  • Detailing forest carbon storage capacity and defining accounting systems
  • Developing GIS and remote sensing data to enhance quantification and spatial visualization of ecosystem services
  • Performing scenario analysis of ecosystem service flows under alternative conditions

Ecosystem Services Based Planning and Management

  • Developing ecosystem service-based restoration and conservation plans
  • Conducting analysis to prioritize restoration and conservation actions
  • Supporting sustainable forestry, wildfire, and carbon offset planning to provide a blueprint for holistic natural resource management

Markets and Payments

  • Developing ecosystem service-based restoration and conservation plans
  • Conducting analysis to prioritize restoration and conservation actions
  • Supporting sustainable forestry, wildfire, and carbon offset planning to provide a blueprint for holistic natural resource management

Indicators

  • Identifying socioeconomic and ecological indicators, and documenting indicator monitoring protocols
  • Designing web-based indicator score and report cards to effectively communicate and track indicator status and trends.
  • Conducting causal evaluation of restoration or impacts in relation to human activities and natural processes
  • Scoping and implementation of triple-bottom line indicator accounting protocols

Recent Projects – Ecosystem Services

Lake Tahoe Aquatic Plant Monitoring Program

The Spatial Informatics Group recently worked with the Marine Taxonomic Services and Oregon State University to prepare an Aquatic Plant…
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Expanding a California Wildfire Emissions Protocol to Colorado

Since 2018, SIG was the research lead for the “Quantifying Ecosystem Service Benefits of the Reduced Occurrence of Significant Wildfires,”…
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High Resolution UAS Mapping of Forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The SIG Unmanned Aerial System Team recently mapped an area of dense redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The…
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Forest Inventory at “Dead Mans Gulch” near Santa Cruz, California

SIG worked in the Santa Cruz flying aerial imagery and installing permanent research plots for the beginning of a long-term…
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Team – Ecosystem Services

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Dr. David Saah

Dr. Saah has been broadly trained as an environmental scientist with expertise in a number of areas including: landscape ecology,…
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Glenn Hyman

Glenn Hyman is an Environmental Scientist and the Science and Data Lead for the SERVIR-Amazonia initiative. Glenn’s recent work focuses…
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Dr. Austin Troy

Austin Troy, PhD is Principal and Co-Founder of Spatial Informatics Group, where he has worked on a wide range of…
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Dr. John Gunn

John Gunn is a forest ecologist and Executive Director of the non-profit Spatial Informatics Group – Natural Assets Laboratory (SIG-NAL)…
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