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Posts Tagged: ecosystem services

To protect California ecosystem services, they must be valued

About 60% of California water flows from the state's forests, an invaluable ecosystem service.
The ecosystem services of landscapes in California are essential to the state's future, but many people take them for granted.

In addition to direct economic outputs, working landscapes – farms, rangelands, forests and fisheries, to name a few – sequester carbon, capture water, support wildlife, offer picturesque views and make space for hiking, skiing, boating and other recreational activities.

“We need to put a value to ecosystem services, from an economic standpoint, that incentivizes people who own and manage these landscapes so they can continue to manage them for everyone's benefit,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension rangeland advisor in Sonoma County.

When ecosystem services have been monetized, proper compensation can be calculated, ensuring benefits like clean water, fresh air and a livable climate are protected for future generations.

In November, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources released a report at the California Economic Summit in Fresno on the value of California's working landscapes. The report determined the state's working landscapes generate $333 billion in annual sales and 1.5 million jobs. That number does not include ecosystem services.

UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston (center) takes part in the discussion about valuing the state's ecosystem services.

“The value of ecosystem services is probably higher than the $333 billion direct economic contribution of working landscapes outlined in the report,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Humiston is chair of the economic summit's working landscape task force. “The problem is, when we don't have that quantified, it's hard to make investments to make sure those ecosystem services are maintained.”

Humiston said that, in time, systems can be developed for the public to support the ecosystem services they enjoy.

“You might have a small surcharge on binoculars,” she said. “That money could be used to protect bird habitat so birders can go somewhere to see birds. Water districts might assess a surcharge on your water bill to pay for the forested watersheds where they are getting your water. There are many different mechanisms to do this. We're trying to figure out what would be the best mechanism.”

During the summit, a team of researchers, policymakers and industry professionals launched a new phase of work to calculate with scientific accuracy the value of ecosystem services. Larson is a member of the leadership team, along with executive director of the Central Valley Partnership Dan O'Connell and Sequoia Riverlands Trust director of pubic planning and policy Adam Livingston.

UCCE rangeland advisor Stephanie Larson, left, leads a working session to develop strategies for determining the value of ecosystem services. Also pictured are Eva Shepherd of Chicostart, center, and Colleen Kedrell of Next 10.

The team is working with partners to secure funding and technical support to integrate data sets already available from the Council of Governments' Rural-Urban Connections Strategy into an open source, statewide system for mapping ecosystem services.

Once the tool is established, the team will be ready to pilot test it in four areas of California that provide ecosystem services.

“I love this concept,” said Kenny Spain, economic development specialist with the Headwaters Fund in Humboldt County and a member of the task force. “It's a valuable tool.”

U.S. Congressman Jim Costa contributes to the discussion about California ecosystem services.
 
California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross endorsed the work of the working landscapes task force at the California Economic Summit.

Learn more:

Ecosystem Services and California's Working Landscapes: Market Mechanisms to Revitalize Rural Economies (2017)

View a 4-minute video of UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston announcing the release of the report, California's Working Landscape: A Key Contributor to the State's Economic Vitality, at the 2019 California Economic Summit.

 

View California Governor Gavin Newsom's keynote address at the 2019 California Economic Summit:

Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 11:21 AM
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development, Environment

Loss of trees could portend loss of human life

An invasive pest from Asia is killing thousands of trees in Southern California, which may lead to the death of thousands of humans, reported Adam Rogers on Wired.com.

Polyphagous shot hole borer females drill holes inside trees to lay their eggs. In the process, they deposit a fungus that grows and provides food for larvae. The fungus gums up the trees' channels for water and nutrient transport, eventually killing it. Called Fusarium dieback, the condition is on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California in the next few years.

With data from a U.S. Forest Services study, which found that fewer trees is related to respiratory and cardiovascular disease deaths in people, the reporter underscored the dire human-health implications of polyphagous shot hole borer.

Sycamore trees are particularly susceptible to the ravages of polyphagous shot hole borer. These majestic trees provide shade, clean the air, and protect water - valuable ecosystem services that are lost when a pest kills the tree.

Trees also provide valuable "ecosystem services," such as reducing light and heat intensity, protecting water, cleaning the air of pollutants, providing wildlife habitat and storing carbon. The forest service combined satellite data and field plot data to calculate the costs and benefits of trees. The potential loss of ecosystem services because of polyphagous shot hole borer is $1.4 billion, not including the public health cost.

“A normal response to an invasive pest means millions of dollars would be thrown at it,” said John Kabashima, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus who is working on staving off a catastrophe. “This one has received hundreds of thousands.”

Kabashima and other scientists are identifying infected trees to cut them down and chip the wood to prevent further spread. The tell-tale signs are little holes and sugar volcanoes that tend to show up first on the north side of the trunk or limb.

"You have to get out and walk around each tree, which we're doing in Orange County parks," Kabashima said. "We go out on off-road Segways. We can cover square miles in a day."

 

Posted on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 11:07 AM

A Push to Protect Pollinators

A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging on a blackberry blossom. (Photo by KathY Keatley Garvey)

A United Nations' organization today issued a global pollinator health report and the news was not good. The two-year global assessment by the...

A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging on a blackberry blossom. (Photo by KathY Keatley Garvey)
A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging on a blackberry blossom. (Photo by KathY Keatley Garvey)

A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging on a blackberry blossom. (Photo by KathY Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee pollinating a tangerine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee pollinating a tangerine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee pollinating a tangerine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, pollinating a squash blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, pollinating a squash blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, pollinating a squash blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bodega Marine Lab keeps watch on ocean temperatures

Ocean waters are warming, sea level is rising, seawater is becoming more acidic, and shoreline erosion is intensifying. The world’s oceans are reacting to increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.

“The physical and chemical environment of the ocean is changing with the climate,” said John Largier of the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory. “This affects ecosystems — like tidal marshes and coral reefs that protect us from storms and flooding.”

The ocean brings stability to the earth’s climate. It heats up and cools down more slowly than the land and the air. With climate change, the ocean absorbs excess heat trapped in the earth’s system by the increased concentration of gases in the atmosphere.

As seawater warms, it expands. The increase in the ocean’s heat content has contributed to one of the most visible effects of global warming — rising sea level. Thermal expansion, along with melting polar ice caps and glaciers, has led to global sea level rise of more than seven inches over the last century.

“When the ocean begins to warm up, then you know that the earth’s climate is changing,” said Largier, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. “Even if we stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere right now, the ocean has warmed up, and it will take centuries for it to cool down. People don’t realize that we’ve already made a long-term commitment to climate change.”

At the Bodega Marine Lab, Largier and other scientists are studying the regional impacts of climate change on the waters off California, which include an increase in coastal upwelling. Driven by winds, upwelling pulls cold water and nutrients from the ocean depths to the surface along the shore and contributes to the “marine layer,” the blanket of cool moist air that moderates California temperatures. Largier’s research shows a trend toward stronger winds and an increase in upwelling since 1982, leading to cooler waters off central and northern California.

“Worldwide, the ocean’s surface water is getting warmer, but in California, the ocean is getting colder near shore,” said Largier. “This is intriguing because it shows that climate change is not going to have the same effect everywhere. There will be regional differences.”


This article was condensed slightly from UC Davis “CA&ES Outlook” magazine. Read the full article on page 7.

Read John Largier's scientific advisory group report on how changes in the ocean might affect two valuable marine sanctuaries off the northern California coast: "Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries"

John Largier along the northern California coast. (Photo: Jennifer Sauter/UC Davis)
John Largier along the northern California coast. (Photo: Jennifer Sauter/UC Davis)

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Williamson Act cuts put California open space at risk

California Agriculture journal, October-December 2012 issue
Owners of 20 percent of California rangeland may choose to sell their land, perhaps to developers, if they don't receive tax breaks from the Williamson Act, according to researchers in the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology. This could cause sweeping landscape change in California, pointed out Michael Krasney on Forum, a talk radio program broadcast by KQED radio.

Krasney hosted a half-hour show on the Williamson Act, basing the segment on research published in the current issue of California Agriculture journal. Lynn Huntsinger, professor of rangeland ecology and management at UC Berkeley, was a guest.

Today, 15 million acres of open space are protected because of the Williamson Act. The grasslands and oak woodlands provide the public with a variety of ecosystem services, such as beautiful, open vistas along highways and byways, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration.

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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