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.
Lead Authors: Heather Tallis, Barbara J. Merz, Cindy Huang, Katharine Kreis, Lydia Olander, Claudia Ringler
Ongoing economic, technological, and demographic shifts are altering the nature of today’s major, global issues and challenging us to rethink our past and current approaches to solving them. As our planet becomes more populated and prosperous, the demand for finite resources—such as water, energy, and food—are increasing rapidly. These trends escalate the urgency to find new ways of addressing persistent and growing challenges. But current research and policy systems inhibit integrated approaches to problem solving. Too often, the health, environment, and development sectors work independently setting narrowly defined objectives and failing to consider consequences outside of their own sector. A Call to Action for Health, Environment, and Development Leaders and a companion paper Bridge Collaborative Practitioner’s Guide: Principles and Guidance for Cross-sector Action Planning and Evidence Evaluation are aimed at increasing cross-sectoral focused on shared evidence.
Author(s): John Burrows, Tim Hipp, and Lydia Olander
The involvement of large private and institutional forestland owners in conservation has been recognized as increasingly important for the successful implementation of landscape-scale conservation. However, public and non-governmental organization partners have found engagement of these landowners in conservation planning, management, and implementation to be a significant challenge. The Nicholas Institute for Policy Solutions at Duke University, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., and the U.S. Forest Service hosted three meetings in April, September, and October 2016 to bring together leaders from each of these sectors to brainstorm approaches that could help increase the engagement of large private landowners in conservation. This paper summarizes ideas generated at these “all lands” meetings and provides a few concrete examples of conservation solutions across local and regional scales that could potentially be replicated to encourage large private landowner engagement.
Authors: Lydia Olander, Ken Bagstad, Gregory W. Characklis, Patrick Comer, Micah Effron, John Gunn, Tom Holmes, Robert Johnston, James Kagan, William Lehman, John Loomis, Timon McPhearson, Anne Neale, Lauren Patterson, Leslie Richardson, Martin Ross, David Saah, Samantha Sifleet, Keith Stockmann, Dean Urban, Lisa Wainger, Robert Winthrop, and David Yoskowitz
Resource managers face increasingly complex decisions as they attempt to manage for the long-term sustainability and the health of natural resources. Incorporating ecosystem services into decision processes provides a means for increasing public engagement and generating more transparent consideration of tradeoffs that may help to garner participation and buy-in from communities and avoid unintended consequences. A 2015 White House memorandum from the Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Science Technology and Policy acknowledged these benefits and asked all federal agencies to incorporate ecosystem services into their decision making. This working paper, expanded since its initial publication in November 2016, describes the ecological and social data and models available for quantifying the production and value of many ecosystem services across the United States. To achieve nationwide inclusion of ecosystem services, federal agencies will need to continue to build out and provide support for this essential informational infrastructure.
Author(s): Lydia Olander, Stephen Polasky, James S. Kagan, Robert J. Johnston, Lisa Wainger, David Saah, Lynn Maguire, James Boyd, and David Yoskowitz
There is growing demand for information regarding the impacts of decisions on ecosystem services and human benefits. There remains a substantial gap between ecosystem services research and the information required to support decisions. Research often provides models and tools that do not fully link social and ecological systems; that are too complex, specialized, and costly to use; and that are targeted to outcomes that differ from those needed by decision makers. Decision makers require cost-effective, straightforward, transferable, scalable, meaningful, and defensible methods that can be readily understood. This article in the journal Ecosystem Services provides illustrative examples of the gaps between research and practice and describes how researchers can make their work relevant to decision makers by using benefit relevant indicators (BRIs) and by choosing models appropriate for particular decision contexts.