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Ecosystem Services- Making the Link



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Ecosystem Services- Making the Link

 by j.a. Kendrick

 

In recent years, more and more people have come to realize that the Earth’s environment is very important to their quality of life.   Many of them want to do something to protect and assist the earth,  but do not know how to do so in a constructive manner.  They join groups, worry, protest and complain, but never get beyond separating their recyclables.   The desire is there, but the means of accomplishing it is missing from the equation.  Ecosystem services is a concept that connects people who would like to actively do something constructive for the health of our planet,  with people who can make that desire become reality.  

 

Some of the ecosystem services provided by forested ecosystems in particular, are sequestering carbon from the atmosphere; cooling of the earth’s surface; pumping oxygen into the atmosphere, wildlife habitat protection; biodiversity- protection of both native plants and animals;  watershed, wetland & riparian protection; flood & sediment control; soil and nutrient cycling;  groundwater recharge;  and aesthetics.   There are many means of accomplishing these goals, the simplest of which are   1) to plant native trees,  and  2) to allow existing forests of trees to grow rather than harvest them for timber.  Planting trees may seem a trivial endeavor, but living forests of healthy trees serve many of the aforementioned purposes.  Allowing these forests to grow for longer periods of time in order to reach maturity is vital to enabling the Earth to recuperate, regenerate and provide for the quality of life of humans into the future . 

 

The components necessary to making ecosystem services viable are markets and demand.   Combining the two are essential to creating this solution to some of our ecological problems.   Demand is created by consumers who are willing to fund some of the necessary “green” services to be provided and markets are provided by forest managers who are willing to work at actually providing these “green” services in lieu of just managing for timber production.  Small non-Industrial “Green-tag” forestland owner/managers are a resource that is untapped though they are a likely provider for these services. Their management goals more closely link to ecosystem protection and conservation, therefore they are more likely to be interested in this type of market and more likely to provide action and value for the funds provided.

 

 A marketplace is needed to match up the markets with the demand.  Most of the current scenarios do nothing more than make people feel better or enable industries to continue polluting and do little to solve the underlying problem.  The idea that small non-industrial forestland managers can be of benefit in providing essential ecosystem services, has been scoffed at by the current large service providers.  However, it is the consumer who will ultimately govern what type of services they will fund and whom they will trust to partner with.     

 


 

Comments:

 

Comment from Angie B.:

I  read your forum article "Ecosystem Services- Making  the Link" and find the concept very interesting.  I wonder if there are entities who are trying to create a marketplace for these services.  I also wonder if this is going to end up being just another scam by the forest industry? If it can be kept out of their hands perhaps it will be something that people will feel safe to invest in.

 

Answer from jk:

Angie, I understand your concern over this becoming just another industry scam and hope that it can develop into a program that will be functional for landowners like us and rewarding to those folks who want to invest. At present there are only a couple of programs that I am aware of.  We belong to an organization called the Oregon Small Woodlands Association who is interested in this concept. They are working on developing a "carbon aggregator" market for family woodland owners in conjunction with the American Forest Foundation.  Also, the Willamette Partnership is working on creating a market for temperature credits.  

 

Comment from runsilent at RogueIMC:

The conclusions reached in the article "Ecosystem Services- Making the Link" appear to be valid. The concept is intriguing and if it can be implemented could certainly provide a solution to what we are all concerned about- saving our forested ecosystems.

 



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