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Assessing the Economic Contribution of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in the Sargasso Sea

This report provides a variety of measures of the Sargasso Sea’s economic value and impact, especially net and gross revenues associated with ecosystem services supported by the sea. It captures just a small portion of these services and does not reflect their complete and total net value. Yet analysis of data on even this small portion suggests that the economic importance of the Sargasso Sea is significant. Economic expenditures and revenues directly or potentially linked to that sea range from tens to hundreds of million of dollars a year.

Authors: L. Pendleton, F. Krowicki, P. Strosser, and J. Hallett-Murdoch, Murdoch Marine

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Oceans & Coasts

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Marine

Environmental Economics

Reports

Optimizing the Scale of Markets for Water Quality Trading

Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at a lower cost than requiring facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, a new Duke University led study finds. The scale and type of the trading programs, though critical, may matter less than just getting them started. The analysis in the journal Water Resources Research shows that water-quality trading of any kind can significantly lower the costs of achieving Clean Water Act goals.

Author(s): Martin Doyle, Lauren Patterson, Yanyou Chen, Kurt Schnier, and Andrew Yates

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Science

Water

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Mangrove Ecosystem Services Valuation: State of the Literature

A growing body of literature provides estimates of ecosystem services values derived from mangroves. If this literature is to be useful in decision making, it must have a solid foundation of value estimates. This paper identifies gaps in data and knowledge regarding mangrove ecosystem services valuations and recommends ways that future research could advance understanding of mangrove ecology, ecosystem services valuation, and conservation. 

Authors: Tibor Vegh, Megan Jungwiwattanaporn, Linwood Pendleton, and Brian Murray

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Oceans & Coasts

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Marine

Environmental Economics

Working Papers

Synthesis and Review: Advancing Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Quantification

Reducing emissions of agricultural greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as methane and nitrous oxide, and sequestering carbon in the soil or in living biomass can help reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change while imporving productivity. A new article in a special focus issue of Environmental Research Letters synthesizes the current findings on the state of the capacity for agricultural GHG quantification. It concludes that strategic investment in quantification can lead to significant global improvement in agricultural GHG estimation in the near term.

Author(s): Lydia P. Olander, Eva Wollenberg, Francesco N. Tubiello, and Martin Herold

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Climate & Energy

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

T-AGG

T-AGG International

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Application of an Ecosysem Services Framework for BLM Land Use Planning: Consistency with the Federal Land Policy Management Act and Other Applicable Law

Federal agencies responsible for natural areas are increasingly considering ecosystem services in their planning and management decisions. Operationalizing this new approach entails multiple challenges. To address them, the National Ecosystem Services Partnership launched the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services project, which will culminate in an online guidebook providing a framework and methodology to enhance consistency of ecosystem services approaches and describing how federal agencies are exploring or applying the ecosystem services concept. Laying the groundwork for the guidebook are this paper and Integration of Ecosystem Services Valuation Analysis into National Environmental Policy Act Compliance: Legal and Policy Perspectives. These papers explain how the the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 and the National Environmental Policy Act enable or limit agencies’ incorporation of ecosystem services approaches into federal planning and management processes. 

Author: Paul B. Smyth

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Ecosystem Services

Reports

Integration of Ecosystem Services Valuation Analysis into National Environmental Policy Act Compliance: Legal and Policy Perspectives

Federal agencies responsible for natural areas are increasingly considering ecosystem services in their planning and management decisions. Operationalizing this new approach entails multiple challenges. To address them, the National Ecosystem Services Partnership launched the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services project, which will culminate in an online guidebook providing a framework and methodology to enhance consistency of ecosystem services approaches and describing how federal agencies are exploring or applying the ecosystem services concept. Laying the groundwork for the guidebook are this paper and Application of an Ecosystems Services Framework for BLM Land Use Planning: Consistency with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and Other Applicable Law. These papers explain how the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 enable or limit agencies’ incorporation of ecosystem services approaches into federal planning and management processes. 

Author: Dinah Bear

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Ecosystem Services

Reports

Refining Models for Quantifying the Water Quality Benefits of Improved Animal Management for Use in Water Quality Trading

Water quality trading (WQT) allows point-source permittees to meet their water quality obligations by purchasing credits from other point or nonpoint sources that have reduced their discharges. Improved management of animal operations could reduce nutrient discharges into waterways and thereby generate credits for WQT programs. But first, methods for quantifying pollutant reductions resulting from animal management changes must be adapted for use in such programs. This report explains the Clean Water Act underpinning of WQT programs and how animal operations fit into them. It surveys models of animal production of nutrient waste, surface water transport, and the transport and transformation of pollutants in watersheds. It also describes how direct measurement and monitoring of nutrient losses is evolving. Finally, it presents ideas on how to improve models’ accuracy and usability. The report reflects insights from three supplemental papers: Management Practices to Improve Water Quality on Central and Western Rangelands, Assessing Potential Impacts of Livestock Management on Groundwaterand Management Options for Animal Operations to Reduce Nutrient Loads

Author(s): Lydia Olander, Todd Walter, Peter Vadas, Jim Heffernan, Ermias Kebreab, Marc Ribaudo, Thomas Harter

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Ecosystem Services

Land

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities for California Agriculture: Review of Emissions and Mitigation Potential of Animal Manure Management and Land Application of Manure

Manure management, primarily in anaerobic lagoons on dairies, is estimated to be the largest source of greenhouse gases from California agriculture. However, no field measurements from dairies in California have been published. A review of the broader literature revealed that emissions from anaerobic lagoons had more than 10 times the global warming potential of emissions from solid manure piles. Capping anaerobic lagoons and flaring the emitted methane, or fully converting to anaerobic digesters, could reduce total methane emissions by 92% (~7.7 Tg CO2e). Manure from farms is eventually applied to agricultural fields as fertilizer, where nitrous oxide is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted. Limited data are available on GHG emissions from manure-amended fields, and only two studies were conducted in California. This research suggested that fertilizing agricultural fields with manure rather than synthetic fertilizers results in lower GHG emissions as well as increased soil carbon storage. Despite the significance of dairy manure in GHG budgets at the state, regional, and global scale, this review reveals a surprising lack of field-scale research necessary to inform the development of best practices in California. Key areas of research for California include measurements of GHG emissions from dairy manure management systems and comparisons of GHG emissions from agricultural fields under different management practices. 

Author(s): Justine J. Owen, Ermias Kebreab, and Whendee Silver 

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Climate & Energy

Adaptation

Science

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Climate Change Policy

Western

State Policy

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities for California Agriculture: Review of the Economics

Although about three-quarters of California farm revenue derives from crop production, crops—mainly tree, vine, and vegetable crops—account for only about one-quarter of GHG emissions. Some studies indicate minimal yield loss from reducing nitrogen fertilizer use, and simulation results show significant percentage reductions in GHG emissions for payments of $20/MTCO2e. The economics of reducing emissions from enteric fermentation has been little studied. Manure management to reduce GHG emissions (mainly methane) can be as simple as covering manure lagoons and flaring methane. The more complex option of using manure-generated methane gas to replace fossil fuels has been investigated often. Most case studies and simulations suggest this option is costly. Its economic feasibility depends on specific local conditions, but there is no evidence of large-scale feasibility in California without large subsidies. 

Author(s): Hyunok Lee and Daniel Sumner

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Climate & Energy

Adaptation

Science

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Western

State Policy

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities in California Agriculture: Science and Economics Summary

California Assembly Bill 32 requires effective statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies. This report summarizes the results of six studies--developed to inform California policy--that review the latest science and economics of GHG mitigation opportunities in California's agricultural sector. Specifically, the report examines the potential for annual GHG reductions in cropland, rangeland, and manure management systems and through emissions-targeted optimization of feed for dairy animals. Among the examined practices, dairy manure management appears to provide the largest emissions reduction opportunity at the lowest cost per ton, but economic and other hurdles must be overcome to realize it. Other mitigation activities could yield relatively large per-acre reductions but on relatively small acreage. Yet other activities could be widely implemented, but their potential effectiveness is uncertain. More data on the GHG reduction potential and costs of management practices in California agriculture and a better understanding of adoption barriers are needed.

Author(s): Tibor Vegh, Lydia Olander, Brian Murray

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Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Climate Change Policy

States & Regions

Western

State Policy

Reports

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