Authors: Aashna Aggarwal, Danielle Arostegui, Kendall DeLyser, Bethany Hewett, Emily Johnson, and Alexander Rudee
The U.S. Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, released in November 2016, calls for the United States to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. A significant portion of those reductions are to come from the forestry and agricultural sectors. Those reductions will be more difficult and more expensive to achieve if the current U.S. forest sink is not maintained and the greenhouse gas impacts of agriculture are not addressed. This working paper seeks to address those two tasks, first, by presenting a cost distribution of various climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices and an analysis of the geographic distribution of such activities in the United States, and second, by offering policy recommendations to achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions.
Authors: Todd K. BenDor, Vivek Shandas, Brian Miles, Kenneth Belt, and Lydia Olander
This article in the journal Environmental Science and Policy presents an ecosystem services framework for assessing the context-specific needs of decision makers, while considering the strengths and limitations of greenwater infrastructure use in urban stormwater management. It describes multiple dimensions of the planning system, identifies points of intervention, and illustrates two applications of our framework—in Durham, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon. In these case studies, the framework is applied to explicitly consider tradeoffs, thereby assisting planning professionals who are considering implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. The article includes a research agenda that explores opportunities for further evaluations of greenwater infrastructure design, implementation, and maintenance in cities.
Ecosystem service maps are instrumental for the assessment and communication of the costs and benefits of human-nature interactions. This article in the journal Ecosystem Services proposes an integrated way of assessing and mapping global flows of marine ecosystem services. It proposes a conceptual framework that integrates ecosystem service provision principles with value chain analysis and human well-being assessment methods, while considering the spatial dimension of these components in ecosystem service mapping. It applies this framework to the case of seafood provision from purse seine tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
This article in the journal Ecosystem Services reviews the prevalence and usage of the concept of ecosystem services in American and other common law legal systems. It suggests that this concept is rarely relied on by courts and other adjudicatory bodies. The authors identify several trends in cases discussing ecosystem services and recommend courses of action for environmental agencies and litigants interested in furthering ecosystem services protection through the court systems of common law countries.
Authors: Jiangxiao Qui, Edward T. Game, Heather Tallis, Lydia Olander, Louise Glew, James, S. Kagan, Elizabeth L. Kalies, Drew Michanowicz, Jennifer Phelan, Stephen Polasky, James Reed, Erin O. Sills, Dean Urban, and Sarah Kate Weaver
Sustainability challenges for nature and people are complex and interconnected, such that effective solutions require approaches and a common theory of change that bridge disparate disciplines and sectors. Causal chains offer promising approaches to achieving an integrated understanding of how actions affect ecosystems, the goods and services they provide, and ultimately, human well-being. Although causal chains and their variants are common tools across disciplines, their use remains highly inconsistent, limiting their ability to support and create a shared evidence base for joint actions. This BioScience article presents the foundational concepts and guidance of causal chains linking disciplines and sectors that do not often intersect to elucidate the effects of actions on ecosystems and society.
Authors: Christoper S. Galik and Lydia Olander
Early action refers to activities undertaken prior to a regulatory program or generation of services prior to mitigation of impacts elsewhere. In U.S. environmental markets, early action could reduce lags in environmental performance, improve outcomes, and encourage innovation in mitigation approaches. Multiple tools have emerged for encouraging early action in environmental markets. Several tools have also been deployed in markets, providing valuable insight into their function. This article in Land Use Policy presents a systematic review of early action tools and describes their use in wetland and stream mitigation, species and habitat banking, greenhouse gas mitigation, and water quality trading.
Author(s): Lydia P. Olander, Robert J. Johnston, Heather Tallis, James Kagan, Lynn A. Maguire, Stephen Polasky, Dean Urban, James Boyd, Lisa Wainger, and Margaret Palmer
There is a growing movement in government, environmental NGOs, and the private sector to include ecosystem services in decision making—that is, measuring how much a change in ecological conditions affects people, social benefit, or value to society. Despite consensus around the general merit of accounting for ecosystem services, systematic guidance on what to measure and how is lacking. Current ecosystem services assessments often resort to biophysical proxies (e.g., area of wetland in a floodplain) or even disregard services that seem difficult to measure. Valuation, an important tool for assessing trade-offs and comparing outcomes, is also frequently omitted. This article in Ecological Indicators proposes the use of a new type of indicator that explicitly reflects an ecosystem’s capacity to provide benefits to society, ensuring that ecosystem services assessments measure outcomes that are demonstrably and directly relevant to human welfare.
Authors: Sally Entrekin , Anne Trainor, James Saiers, Lauren Patterson, Kelly Maloney, Joseph Fargione, Joseph Kiesecker, Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Katherine Konschnik, Hannah Wiseman, Jean-Philippe Nicot, and Joseph N. Ryan
Demand for high-volume, short duration water withdrawals could create water stress to aquatic organisms in the Fayetteville Shale streams of Arkansas sourced for hydraulic fracturing fluids this article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests. Authors estimate potential water stress using permitted water withdrawal volumes and actual water withdrawals compared to monthly median, low, and high streamflows. Findings indicate that freshwater usage for hydraulic fracturing could potentially affect aquatic organisms in 7-51 percent of the catchments depending on the month. If 100 percent of wastewater was recycled, the potential impact drops. Authors suggest that improved monitoring and access to water withdrawal and streamflow data are needed to ensure protection of streams not only as sources of drinking water, but aquatic habitats.
Authors: Alison J. Eagle, Lydia P. Olander, Katie L. Locklier, James B. Heffernan, and Emily S. Bernhardt
Effective management of nitrogen (N) in agricultural landscapes must account for how nitrate (NO3) leaching and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions respond to local field-scale management and to broader environmental drivers such as climate and soil. This article in the Soil Science Society of America Journal reflects assemblage of a comprehensive database of fertilizer management studies with data on N2O and NO3 losses associated with 4R fertilizer N management in North American corn-cropping systems. Meta-analysis of side-by-side comparisons found significant yield-scaled N2O emission reductions when SUPERU replaced urea or UAN, and when urea replaced anhydrous ammonia. The large effects of climate and soil, and the potential for opposite reactions to some management changes, indicate that more simultaneous measurements of N2O and NO3 losses are needed to understand their joint responses to management and environmental factors, and how these shape tradeoffs or synergies in pathways of N loss.
Lead Authors: Heather Tallis, Katharine Kreis, Lydia Olander, Claudia Ringler
The health, development, and environment sectors increasingly realize that they cannot achieve their respective goals by acting in isolation. Yet, as they pivot to act collectively, they face challenges in finding and interpreting evidence on sectoral interrelationships, and thus in developing effective evidence-based responses. Each sector already uses some form of evidence-based research, design, and action planning, but methods vary, and ideas about the strength of evidence differ, creating stumbling blocks in the way of cross-sector impact. A new initiative, called the Bridge Collaborative, sets out to spark cross-sector problem solving by developing common approaches that the three sectors could agree to and use. The collaborative has focused on two linked areas of practice that could unlock cross sector collaboration: results chains and evaluation of supporting evidence. This document captures a set of principles identified and used by the collaborative, along with detailed guidance for creating comparable results chains across sectors and evaluating evidence from multiple disciplines in common terms.