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Publications

Reducing Environmental Risks from Belt and Road Initiative Investments in Transportation Infrastructure

Authors: Elizabeth Losos, Alexander Pfaff, Lydia Olander, Sara Mason, and Seth Morgan

The Belt and Road Initiative, due to its diverse and extensive infrastructure investments, poses a wide range of environmental risks. Some projects have easily identifiable and measurable impacts, such as energy projects' greenhouse gas emissions. Others, such as transportation infrastructure, due to their vast geographic reach, generate more complex and potentially more extensive environmental risks. The proposed Belt and Road Initiative rail and road investments have stimulated concerns because of the history of significant negative environmental impacts from large-scale transportation projects across the globe. This paper studies environmental risks—direct and indirect—from Belt and Road Initiative transportation projects and the mitigation strategies and policies to address them. The paper concludes with a recommendation on how to take advantage of the scale of the Belt and Road Initiative to address these concerns in a way not typically available to stand-alone projects. In short, this scale motivates and permits early integrated development and conservation planning.

Publications

Cross-Discipline Evidence Principles for Sustainability Policy

Authors : Edward T. Game, Heather Tallis, Lydia Olander, Steven M. Alexander, Jonah Busch, Nancy Cartwright, Elizabeth L. Kalies, Yuta J. Masuda, Anne-Christine Mupepele, Jiangxiao Qiu, Andrew Rooney, Erin Sills, and William J. Sutherland

Social and environmental systems are linked and, as this relationship becomes ever more apparent, governments, communities and organizations are increasingly faced with, and focused on, problems that are complex, wicked and transgress traditional disciplinary boundaries. This article in the journal Nature Sustainability suggests that evidence-based approaches to solve these complex multi-disciplinary challenges must draw on knowledge from the environment, development, and health domains. To address barriers to the consideration of evidence across domains, this paper develops an approach to evidence assessment that is broader and less hierarchical than the standards often applied within disciplines.

Publications

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Development

Authors: Katie Warnell, Lydia Olander, and Sara Mason

This report presents an ecosystem services conceptual model that captures the potential ecological and human well-being outcomes of the installation and operation of solar energy facilities on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. An accompanying evidence library provides a summary of the currently available evidence for each relationship in the model and an assessment of the strength of that evidence. The model could improve and help to streamline the Bureau of Land Management's environmental assessments. The report is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Publications

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: Testing General Model Adaptability

Authors: Sara Mason and Lydia Olander

This case study, a companion to Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: NOAA and NERRS Salt Marsh Habitat Restoration summarizes initial efforts to apply a general salt marsh ecosystem services conceptual model to specific sites. This case study discusses efforts to test whether a generalized model can be adapted to specific sites, noting considerations that arise and revisions that should be made to a general model applied to a particular site. This case study is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Publications

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: NOAA and NERRS Salt Marsh Habitat Restoration

Authors: Sara Mason, Lydia Olander, and Katie Warnell

This report provides an illustrative ecosystem services conceptual model for salt marsh restoration at National Estuarine Research Reserve sites. The model captures the potential outcomes of a salt marsh habitat restoration. An accompanying evidence library provides a summary of the evidence for each relationship in the model and an assessment of the strength of that evidence. This report is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Publications

Building Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models

Authors: Lydia Olander, Sara Mason, Katie Warnell, and Heather Tallis

Funders and developers of infrastructure projects and businesses and managers overseeing critical natural resources are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in ecosystem services. Quick, simple, transparent, and low-cost ways for incorporating these services into decisions are just now under development. One tool that can support widespread implementation is ecosystem services conceptual models. This report facilitates development and use of such models in federal decision making by presenting a “how-to” guide and illustrative examples. It is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Publications

Leveraging Big Data Towards Functionally-Based, Catchment Scale Restoration Prioritization

Authors: John P. Lovett, Jonathan M. Duncan, Lindsey S. Smart, John P. Fay, Lydia P. Olander, Dean L. Urban, Nancy Daly, Jamie Blackwell, Anne B. Hoos, Ana María García, Lawrence E. Band

To address limitations to stream and wetland restoration projects, there is a critical need for a functionally-based, high-resolution restoration priority system that can be implemented at broad spatial scales to maximize ecological benefits. This article in the journal Environmental Management describes the River Basin Restoration Prioritization tool developed in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to incorporate data models into a catchment scale restoration prioritization framework. It is designed specifically as a state-wide screening tool that assesses hydrologic, water quality, and aquatic habitat quality conditions with peak flood flow, nitrogen and phosphorus loading, and aquatic species distribution models. Although the application of the tool in this analysis is for the state of North Carolina, the methodology and model datasets are readily applicable to other states or regions to assess a large volume of data to better inform restoration choices.

Publications

Achieving the Mid-Century Strategy Goals for Deep Decarbonization in Agriculture and Forestry

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.

Publications

Ecosystem Services and U.S. Stormwater Planning: An Approach for Improving Urban Stormwater Decisions

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.​

Publications

Mapping the Global Distribution of Locally Generated Marine Ecosystem Services: The Case of the West and Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Fisheries

Authors: Evangelia G. Drakou, John Virdin, and Linwood Pendleton

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. 

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