- Credible: aligned with the latest science and acceptable methods and reviewed by experts. Not the best available science, because that is often not feasible—requiring expertise, capacity, resources and time that managers do not have.
- Feasible: uses methods that require little or no specialized training in ecosystem services for a first order consideration or assessment of alternatives and development of metrics for monitoring. Can integrate easily with a second order, more quantitative or complex methodology run by specialists.
- Consistent: uses a common approach, terminology, set of interventions, outcomes, and metrics; and lays the ground for a common set of methods for predictive models and monitoring.
- Transparent: emphasizes use of a common framework—an ecosystem services conceptual/logic model—which forces a clear illustration of what ecosystem services are being considered, how they are connected to resource management and to wellbeing (social and economic impacts).
- Flexible: the primary framework—the ecosystem services models—are designed to be adaptable to specific contexts and uses. They are the basis for a series of different applications depending on resource manager’s needs: team understanding; stakeholder engagement; educational materials; beneficiary and equity consideration; selection of metrics for monitoring, scaffold for evidence assessment and identification of research needs; and a framework for development of predictive models.
2. Materials and Methods
- metrics addressed by other national forests that had completed their plans under the 2012 Planning Rule, listed on the USFS planning website https://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule (accessed on 1 December 2020);
- items identified in the USFS Resource Planning Act (RPA)–Land Management Plan Data Catalogue that links RPA data products with Plan directives , and
- Attribution: Would you expect to see a change in this metric due to the management alternatives? Is the signal greater than the noise?
- Scale: On what spatial and temporal scales would it make sense to measure the metric? Would this work for an individual forest project or would it work better for an aggregate measure of multiple projects (cumulative effects) for the forest or watershed or region?
- Equity: Can the metric show how the outcome is distributed across different communities, including underrepresented communities or tribes?
- Data sources: Is there existing data collection to support this metric, or would new data need to be collected?
- Feasibility: Is this a realistic metric, given the available data and additional work that would be required to measure it?
- SMART: Is it a SMART metric—specific, measurable and repeatable, attainable, relevant, time bound, and at the right spatial scale .
3.1. Adapting and Specifiying an Ecosystem Services Concetual Model for Forest Planning
3.1.1. Translating a Project Planning and Management Model into a Forest Plan Model
- Spatial and temporal scale: The project scale model is based on management for a particular place and time, likely one forest type with common management goals, whereas a forest plan covers many different habitats (upland forest, wetlands, remote vs. high visitation sites) and multiple recreational management goals (hunting, camping, grazing, carbon storage, access) across a forest. Normally a project scale model, once applied to a specific site, would have details on key species, recreational activities, and outcomes (yellow boxes) that would be affected by the management action under consideration. Because the planning model has to apply more broadly it tends to maintain more generic categories for all of these.
- Management actions (dark blue boxes): The recreational management actions in the project scale model are very specific—trail creation and maintenance, road creation and maintenance, and facilities construction. In contrast, the forest plan mostly focuses on broader objectives and desired conditions across the Forest such as changes in access—motorized access and special use permits—and the extent of different types of recreation opportunities to be offered, e.g., undeveloped areas and recreational destination areas.
- Alternatives (dark blue boxes): For the project scale model, management actions are either included, e.g., a trail is being created or maintained, or it is not and would be dropped from the model. In contrast, for the forest plan model, broader strategy options (alternatives) are considered to increase or decrease access and extent of different types of recreational activity opportunities offered. These are not yet formulated into specific on-the-ground projects.
- Level of detail: While the project scale model includes significant detail on the biophysical and ecological changes (shown in light gray) linking the management and the socio-economic outcomes. These were viewed as less important to include in the planning models where we were focused on identifying social and economic outcomes.
3.1.2. Specifying Ecosystem Service Outcomes for the Ashley National Forest Plan ESCM
3.1.3. Facilitating a Common Understanding of Management Impacts for the ESCM
3.1.4. Exploring the Use of a Simplified ESCM for Stakeholder Communication
3.2. Selection of Ecosystem Service Metrics
3.3. Feedback from the Ashley Forest Planning Team
4.1. Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models Provide a Visual Tool for Facilitating a Common Understanding of Management Impacts
4.2. Ecosystem Service Metrics Identificaiton Process Expands Ideas for Relevant Measures
Conflicts of Interest
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|Economic Activity–Management||Recreation facility management|
|Ease of access||X|
|Cultural value–Traditional uses||X|
|Cultural value–Other||Cultural value–other (community uses)|
|Cultural value—Tribal resource use, cultural site condition, solitude, crowding||X|
|Human health–Mental health and psychological well-being, physical health, water-related illness or death, respiratory illness or death||X|
|Human health–Fire-related illness or death, tick-borne disease||X|
|Social cost of greenhouse gas emissions||X|
|Outcome Group||Outcome||Metric||Planning or Implementation Level?|
|Economic activity||Recreation facility management||Total direct expenditures on management to implement the Forest Plan alternative. May be monetary or categorical method (increase, no change, decrease)||Planning|
|Deferred maintenance costs and change in deferred maintenance backlog. Monetary method.||Implementation|
|Cultural value||Cultural site|
|Potential for conflict/competition between authorized uses and cultural site use. Categorical (increased risk, no change, decrease risk)||Planning|
|Potential for damage/degradation to archaeological sites and heritage resources caused by authorized uses (recreational use, infrastructure construction, timber harvest) - this includes both above ground and below ground heritage resources. Categorical method.||Planning|
|Accessibility||Accessibility (ABA facilities)||Number of accessible parking spaces, toilets.||Implementation|
|Change in accessibility of facilities for forest plan alternatives using access/quality of experience matrix. Categorical method.||Planning|
|Ease of access||Ease of access (to recreational opportunities)||Change in access to recreation opportunities (hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.) for forest plan alternatives. Categorical (access/quality of experience matrix)||Planning|
|Change in access to recreation opportunities (hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.) realized. Surveys.||Implementation|
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