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Environmental Review Toolkit

Eco-Logical Webinar
Eco-Logical Crediting and Ecosystem Services

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Presenter: Lydia Olander, Duke University, National Ecosystem Services Partnership & Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Presenter: Jimmy Kagan, Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State and Oregon State University

PDF Version [5.1 MB]

Table of Contents

Eco-Logical Introduction

Ecosystem Services in Federal Decision Making

Key ES Concepts that Everyone Needs to Understand

Eco-Logical Introduction

Slide 1: Eco-Logical Crediting and Ecosystem Services

October 7, 2015


  • Lydia Olander, Duke University, National Ecosystem Services Partnership & Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
  • Jimmy Kagan, Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State and Oregon State University

Image: Logo of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration
Image: Collage of colored photographs of a bridge, a deer, a fish, and a curved rural road from the cover of the Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects report

Slide 2: Steps to Ensure Optimal Webinar Connection

This webinar broadcasts audio over the phone line and through the web room, which can strain some internet connections. To prevent audio skipping or webinar delay we recommend participants:

  • Close all background programs
  • Use a wired internet connection, if possible
  • Do not us a Virtual Private Network (VPN), if possible
  • Mute their webroom audio (toggle is located at the top of webroom screen) and use phone audio only

Slide 3: Eco-Logical On Call Technical Assistance Tool

The Eco-Logical On-Call Technical Assistance Tool is available for agencies to:

  • Request responsive, individualized guidance on Implementing Eco-Logical
  • Submit ideas for webinars or other Eco-Logical Activities

Image: Top banner from the “Request Technical Assisstance” page on the Implementing Eco-Logical website

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Ecosystem Services in Federal Decision Making

Slide 4: Ecosystem Services in Federal Decision Making

Ecological Webinar September 2015

  • Lydia Olander, Duke University, National Ecosystem Services Partnership & Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
  • Jimmy Kagan, Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State and Oregon State University

Image: Screenshot of the top half of the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook website homepage
Image: The logo of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Slide 5: What are Ecosystem Services?

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

  • Provisioning
    Goods or products produced by ecosystems
  • Regulating
    Natural processes regulated by ecosystems
  • Cultural
    Non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems
  • Supporting
    Functions that maintain all other services

Image: Time-lapse photo of a stream in the woods
Image: Photo of two hands holding a large fish
Image: Sideview photo of a stack of freshly cut logs
Image: Photo of a yellow and black swallowtail butterfly on a purple wildflower
Image: Aerial photo of a vast wetland
Image: Photo of a hiker on a cliff trail with a coastline in the distance
Image: Photo of a few green trees intermingled among a group of ancient temples
Image: Photo of green patches in blue water
Image: Photo of the underside of a green leaf; viewpoint is looking up to the sun

Slide 6: Growing Use of Ecosystem Services

Image: Screenshot of the cover of the 2014 BSR publication: Making Sense of New Approaches to Business Risk & Opportunity Assessment: Integrating Ecosystem Services into Investor Due Diligence & Corporate Management
Image: Screenshot of the headline of a June 5, 2014 New York Times article: Putting a Price Tag on Nature's Defenses
Image: Screenshot of the WAVES (Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystems Services) banner
Image: Screenshot of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystems Services banner
Image: The Nature Conservancy logo: Protecting nature. Preserving life.
Image: The Stanford University logo
Image: The Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment logo

Slide 7: How are ES useful?

  • Communicating benefits ecosystems provide to people
  • Constructive engagement of stakeholders before decisions are made
  • Communicating and explicitly considering trade-offs that involve ecosystem services
  • More systemic comparison of alternatives (such as greener vs grayer infrastructure options)
  • Determining monetary values for important but often undervalued benefits

What about limitations to their usefulness?

Slide 8: Where could DOTs use ES?

  • State and regional transportation plans
    • NEPA - avoiding and minimizing impacts to wetland, stream and other important resources and services
    • Adds ES to steps 3 and 4 in Ecological Framework
  • Mitigation planning
    • Developing the crediting strategy in step 6 of the Ecological Framework
    • Partnering on advanced mitigation - maximizing benefits

Image: Screenshot from the EPA's NEPAssist website

Slide 9: National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP)

NESP engages both public and private individuals and organizations to enhance collaboration within the ecosystem services community and to strengthen coordination of policy, market implementation, and research at the national level

Image: The logo of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Slide 10: Goals of our current efforts

  • Help to fill the gap between concept and practice
  • Educate newcomers & managers on the ground
  • Shared learning across agencies
  • Connect ecological and social methods for ES evaluation
  • Common framework that spans decision contexts, geography, and capacity
  • Bring together agency and academic experts to bring credibility while remaining practical

Slide 11: Why now?

  • 1998: PCAST report - Teaming with Life: Investing in Science to Understand and Use America's Living Capital
  • 2005: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
  • 2008: Farm Bill - Establishment of USDA Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets Wetlands Compensatory Mitigation Rule
  • 2010: Inter-agency dialogue on payments and markets for ecosystem services
  • 2011: PCAST Report - Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy
  • 2012: Forest Service Planning Rule; International Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
  • 2013: CEQ Principles and Requirements for Federal Investments in Water Resources
  • 2015: CEQ new guidance?

Slide 12: Online Guidebook

  • Understand the Motivation for Ecosystem Services Approaches
    History, definitions, benefits, limitations, FAQs
  • Explore Agency Use of Ecosystem Services
    Agency decision contexts and examples
  • The Assessment Framework for Ecosystem Services
    Methods for connecting ecological and social analyses

About: Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook |

Image: Screenshot from the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook website

Slide 13: Assessment Framework

  • Scoping
    • Understanding socio-cultural context
    • Engaging stakeholders
    • Conceptual mapping
    • Identifying services
    • Identifying alternatives
  • Assessment/Analysis
    • Causal chains
    • Selecting services
    • Quantifying BRIs
    • Social evaluation (Monetary or non-monetary)
  • Decision
    • Displaying results - alternative matrix or maps
    • Weighting and aggregation
  • Reaction
    • Monitoring BRIs

About: Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook |

Image: Graphic of four clockwise-pointing labeled arrows: “Scoping,” “Assessment/Analysis,” “Decision,” and “Reaction.”

Slide 14: Over 150 People Participated

Project Leads

  • Lydia Olander, Dean Urban, Tim Profeta (Duke University)
  • Lynn Scarlett (The Nature Conservancy)
  • Jim Boyd (Resources for the Future)
  • Sally Collins (Consultant, Formerly USFS and USDA OEM)


  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
  • National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center
  • Duke University
  • USDA Office of Environmental Markets
  • Seed funding from several agencies

Universities & Consultants

  • Clark University
  • Colorado State University
  • Duke University
  • University of Maryland
  • Ohio University
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Vanderbilt University
  • The New School
  • Institute for Natural Resources
  • Parametrix
  • Spatial Informatics Group

Agency Partners

  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Agency Observers

  • Council on Environmental Quality
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • USDA Office of Environmental Markets
  • U.S. Department of State


  • Compass
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Conservation Science Partners
  • NatureServe
  • Resources for the Future
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • United Nations Environment Programme

About: Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook |

Slide 15: United Nations Environment Programme

Written by Lydia Olander, Rob Johnston, Heather Tallis, Jimmy Kagan, Lynn Maguire, Steve Polasky, Dean Urban, James Boyd, Lisa Wainger, Margaret Palmer

Guided by input and advice from EPA, USGS, DOI, USACE, NOAA, USDA, USFS, CEQ, OIRA, BLM

Image: Screenshot of the cover of the National Ecosystem Services Partnership publication: Best Practices for Integrating Ecosystem Services into Federal Decision Making
Images: Logos of the following: Institute for Natural Resources, Resources for the Future, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, The Nature Conservancy, Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, University of Minnesota: Driven to Discover, SESYNC, Clark University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science

Slide 16: How are the GB and BP being used?

  • Co-development of methods
    • Informing Forest Service process
    • Parallel development with USACE framework
  • Working with the agencies as advisors
  • Informing metrics/indicator development (BRIs)
  • Training
    • ACES workshop
    • TNC training
  • Keeping up with the Joneses
    • Finding out what other agencies are doing
  • Exploratory conversations -
    • RESTORE council;
    • USGS building ES resources;

Image: Photo in the woods, looking up a tall thick tree trunk
Image: Photo of construction on a wetland area

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Key ES Concepts that Everyone Needs to Understand

Slide 17: Key ES concepts that everyone needs to understand

Slide 18: Key ES concepts

What distinguishes an ecosystem approach from an ecosystem services assessment

  • Connection to people

Slide 19: An Ecosystem Services Approach

Image: Close-up photo of drops of water that have fallen and are falling into calm water which has created circular concentric waves. This image is linked with arrows to each image listed below.
Image: Photo of two people rowing a canoe on a calm lake
Image: Photo of a man taking a photo of a river using a large telephoto lens
Image: Photo of a fisherman crouching at the edge of a river, holding a fish in his hands
Image: Photo of a water depth chart in a swamp populated with cypress trees
Image: Photo of a woman cupping her hands around a clear glass of water
Image: Photo of a large tool on wheels moving through a field
Image: Phtot of a woman with a thought bubble of a picture of a painted turtle
Image: Photo of a man in waders fishing in a river
Image: Photo of a flooded street in a small town's center
Image: Photo of a row of houses along a waterway

Slide 20: Action - Ecosystem - Benefit

  • Action: Policy, management, or project
  • Ecosystem: Measured by ecological indicators
  • Ecosystem service supply: Measured by benefit relevant indicators
  • Societal benefit: Measured by preference evaluation

Image: Diagram of four boxes connected by arrows around a circle. The boxes' contents are detailed in the above list.

Slide 21: Causal Chain

Ecological Measures
Wetland Restoration Wetland area (acres) Water storage (volume)
Ecology Ecosystem Services Societal Benefit
Ecosystem Service Measures
Wetland Restoration Wetland area (acres) Water storage (volume) Water quantity (average late season water storage volume)

Increase in water available when needed

Water quantity available for irrigation (late season water flows to irrigation outtakes)

Increase in water available for irrigation

Marginal crop value attributable to irrigation water

Images: Three flow charts that are represented by the tables above

Slide 22: Key ES concepts

What distinguishes an ecosystem approach from an ecosystem services assessment

  • Connection to people

What are well-defined measures of ecosystem services?

  • Benefit Relevant Indicators (BRIs)

Slide 23: What are BRIs

Benefit-relevant indicators (BRIs) are measurable indicators that capture the connection between the ecosystem and its affect on people.

  • Ecological indicators are not BRIs unless there is a connection to people
  • BRIs are not monetary values or preference rankings of the societal benefits.

Slide 24: Causal Chain

Images: The same three flowcharts as in Slide 21 with the third flowchart's elements “Increase in water available when needed” and “Increase in water available for irrigation” circled

Slide 25: Key ES concepts

What distinguishes an ecosystem approach from an ecosystem services assessment

  • Connection to people

What are well-defined measures of ecosystem services?

  • Benefit Relevant Indicators (BRIs)

What are the different ways to quantify ES and what can they do (and not do) for you?

  • When are BRIs alone sufficient, versus preference evaluation/societal benefits (monetary/non-monetary valuation).

Slide 26: Overview of ES assessment process

Do you want to assess changes in ecosystem services in addition to or instead of ecological condition?  

Use an ecological assessment

Use an ecosystem services assessment with BRIs
  Do you want to compare options intuitively or formally?  

Use BRIs in alternatives matrices to inform decision makers

Use BRIs with preference information for valuation
  Do you want to use dollar values to assess changes in social benefits?

Use non-monetary valuation methods, preferably multi-criteria analysis

Use economic valuation methods and include non-market values

Image: Process flowchart that is replicated in the table above

Slide 27: BRIs in intuitive decision making

Alternatives Matrix For Considering Ecosystem Services in Intuitive Decision Making

Policy or Management Alternative Option A Option B Option C
Ecosystem Service Benefit Relevant Indicator BR 1 Vegetation density in areas upstream of flood prone area with people or property of interest      
BR 2 Aquifer volume accessible by households      
BR 3 Amount of fish landed commercially      
BR 4 Acres of wetland habitat supporting recreationally important bird or fish species      

Slide 28: Evaluating trade-offs with BRIs

Image: Schematic plot, which is used to assess tradeoffs between different land use policies and species persistence for Oregon's Willamette Basin. It shows different maps displaying the amount of agriculture, managed forestry, UGB, rural-residential, and conserved land.

Slide 29: Preference Evaluation

  • BRIs measure what is valued, but do not measure values. When is preference evaluation required?
  • An evaluation of preferences (monetary or non-monetary valuation) is needed if:
    1. service provision varies substantially across different stakeholder populations, i.e., there are tradeoffs across groups; or
    2. changes in services in response to management or policy vary in direction (or magnitude) across services, i.e., there are tradeoffs across services.
  • Two main approaches
    1. Monetary valuation
    2. Non-monetary multi-criteria analytical methods

Slide 30: Best Practices for ES Assessment

  1. Extend assessments beyond purely ecological measures that are not explicitly tied to people's values to measures of ecosystem services that are directly relevant to people.
    • ES values or preferences - or - Benefit Relevant Indicators
  2. Assess these services using well-defined measures that go beyond narrative description and are appropriate to the analyses, even when data, time, or resources are limited.
    • Narrative descriptions or ambiguously-defined categories do not meet best practice
  3. Include all important services, even those that are difficult to quantify.
    • For consideration if not assessment

Slide 31: Best Practices

Image: Graph that displays benefit-relevant indicators on a scale of capture of ecosystem services benefit, as compared to time and resources. They are above a best practice minimum at a sufficient level of capture of benefits. The graph also shows the quantitate preference as a complete capture of ecosystem services benefit, a narrative ecosystem services as a partial capture of ecosystem services benefit, and quantitative ecological and narrative ecological as no capture of ecosystem services benefit.

Slide 32: Conceptual map or diagram

Image: Conceptual map that shows how a policy or management action can affect multiple aspects of an ecosystem and how each of the impacts on an ecosystem can have multiple impacts on social benefits and valued services. Examples include how a project might impact wetlands or habitat, which has an effect on water quantity and populations of species, which has an effect on crop value attributable to irrigation water or species existence or wildlife watching.

Slide 33: We recommend that:

  • Ecosystem services be brought into a decision processes using causal chains and conceptual mapping to inform the way options are considered.
  • All important services be considered (even if not fully evaluated) in an assessment.
  • The use of BRIs go beyond narrative description with well-defined measurement scales that are compatible with valuation and decision analysis methods, and that this be the minimum standard for ecosystem services assessment.
  • Using monetary or non-monetary valuation methods are the best practice and should be used where possible.

Slide 34: Examples of how ES can be incorporated into transportation decision making

  • Impact Assessment under NEPA
  • Programmatic Mitigation for Impacts to Wetlands and Streams
  • Environmental Performance Measures
  • Restoration Funding Allocation
  • Corridor Alternative Analysis
  • Culvert Replacement Prioritization

Slide 35: Impact Assessment under NEPA

Image: Map of US Highway 20 from Corvallis, Oregon to Newport, Oregon
Image: Map showing proposed US 20 highway realignment alternatives A-D in the vicinity of Eddyville and Chitwood, Oregon

Slide 36: US Highway 20: Pioneer Mountain - Eddyville Project: Proposed Mitigation and Yaquina Priority Mitigation Areas

Even though very few wetlands were impacted, the proposed typical mitigation from the EIS (see below) caused significant problems for the wetland regulators.

A priority mitigation area (see left) provided opportunities for long-term restoration, salmon habitat, and downstream flood protection, and was quickly approved.

Image: Aerial photograph of the Eddyville Project area, showing the Upper Yaquina River, the Yaquina River Estuary, and Mill Creek
Image: Drawing of the Conceptual Wetlands Mitigation Plan for the Eddyville Project

Slide 37: Wetland Mitigation Priorities

  • Virginia Wetlands Mitigation and Restoration Catalog
    • Virginia Natural Heritage Program developed, using the state wetlands map and available data, a prioritized catalog of wetlands suitable for mitigation, restoration, and conservation, using ecosystem services analysis. These mirror wetland “functions,” and assist in mitigation approvals.

Image: Map of Virgina, color-coded by restoration priority rank, from the 2014 Virginia Wetlands Catalog

Slide 38: Environmental Performance Measures

  • Maryland Department of Transportation
    • Maryland State Highway Administration develops Environmental Objectives and Performance Measures to assist in developing MDOT's Annual Attainment Report on Transportation System Performance
    • Maryland's Watershed Resources Registry provides information across agencies on many ecosystem services.
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
    • The OTIA Bridge Project - used environmental performance measures as the basis for a programmatic agreement for over a billion dollars of bridge maintenance and repairs.
    • ODOT is developing performance measures at the request of the Oregon Legislature, for environmental stewardship and project delivery.

Slide 39: Maryland's Environmental Stewardship Performance Measures and the Maryland Watershed Resources Registry

Image: Screenshot of the Water Resources Registry homepage
Image: Reproduction of Maryland's Environmental Stewardship Performance Measures main page

Slide 40: Restoration Funding Allocation

Image: Map of the area south of Tucson, Arizona, color-coded by land ownership
Image: Satellite image of the Sierra Vista, Arizona area
Image: Photograph of a thin river in the Arizona restoration area

Slide 41: Scenarios

  • Urban growth (Steinitz et al. 2003)
  • Mesquite management/grassland restoration
  • CAP water augmentation (Brookshire et al. 2010)

Image: 3 GIS maps of the area south of Tucson, Arizona showing different land characteristics including watershed boundary, forest, oak, mesquite grassland, desert scrub, riparian, agriculture, urban, water, and barre. The first map is dated 2000, the second is 2020 constrained, and the third is 2020 open.
Image: Map of the area south of Tucson, Arizona showing different scenarios for Class 1 - Dry, Class 2 - Intermediate, and Class 3 - Wet lands. Class 1 is bone color, Class 2 is blue, and Class 3 is green.
Image: Map of the area south of Tucson, Arizona showing Highway 90, hypothetical mesquite management areas, and Hereford Road.

Slide 42: Results: ARIES & InVEST models

  • InVEST biodiversity, carbon, water yield results
  • ARIES carbon results, incl. uncertainty maps

Image: 4 GIS maps displaying results from the InVEST tool including biodiversity, carbon, and water yield.
Image: GIS maps displaying ARIES carbon results, including uncertainty maps.

Slide 43: Corridor Alternatives Analysis

California Highway 37 Corridor Analysis

  • Traffic flow - Napa and the other adjacent communities didn't want any option that would reduce traffic. (so removing highway was not an option).
  • Normal analysis would evaluate traffic and regulated resources (here, wetlands and endangered species)

Image: Map of the California Highway 37 area, color-coded to show areas of endangered or threatened species
Image: Map of the San Pablo Bay area, along California Highway 37
Image: Photo of a road at the edge of San Pablo Bay
Image: Photo of a flooded highway

Slide 44: Highway 37 Alternatives Analysis

  1. Included polling adjacent communities to access their interest in transportation, and various natural resources and environmental benefits.
  2. Determined that wetlands and habitats were as important as access. The survey did not ask why, but they did not want the environment benefits to go away.
  3. Considered climate change vulnerability.
Reach Alternative
1 - Levee 2 - Slab Bridge Causeway
A $300 $1,100
B $470 $1,600
Total $770 $2,700

Image: Photo of a bridge traversing a large body of water
Image: Architectural diagrams of the levee alternative and the slab-bridge causeway alternative

Slide 45: Culvert Replacement Prioritization

  • Millions of culverts need to be replaced across the country, far exceeding the resources available to DOTs and restoration groups.
  • Most prioritization focuses on a single issue (fish passage)
  • Culverts influence multiple services:
    • clean water for drinking or swimming
    • riparian conditions for wildlife
    • aquatic conditions for at-risk mussels
    • scenic quality of streams
  • A number of recent studies have developed tools and models to help evaluate multiple ecosystem services while developing priorities that key priorities, such as fish passage and road stability, are properly identified.

Image: Map of the area between Lorane, Oregon and Florence, Oregon

Slide 46:

Slide 47: What about intrinsic value?

  • Concepts of value not linked to humans and not susceptible to measurement are not relevant to analyses of ecosystem services.
  • A broad range of values can be incorporated as ecosystem services, including many types of non-use values (e.g., existence, aesthetic, spiritual, educational) that include some, but perhaps not all, of the types of value that some authors describe as “intrinsic.”
  • Non-use values are captured by BRIs; purely “intrinsic” values are not.

Slide 48: Funding allocation USFS

Examples of What Would and Would Not Qualify as a BRI

Ecosystem Service Not BRI BRI
Existence or abundance of wolves People donating to general conservation organizations* Numbers of wolves x Number of people holding existence value for wolves
Ecological production of recreationally harvested fish Fish abundance Abundance of recreationally targeted fish, in areas used by recreational anglers
Flood regulation Flood frequency Number of vulnerable people (elderly, ESL) in areas with flood risk reduced by management action
Water quality regulation Nitrogen concentration (proxy measure) “swimmable days” x number of people with ready access to the swimming sites

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