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Ecosystem Benefits and Environmental Threats

Given the rapid environmental change experienced and expected across the Appalachians, it will be crucial to understand the vulnerabilities of valued ecosystem services to drivers of large-scale change that may threaten their sustainability. The Appalachian LCC has partnered with the US Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center to assess ecosystem services, and vulnerabilities to environmental risk factors, throughout the Appalachians. Synthesizing current knowledge of the diverse benefits that people derive from functioning Appalachian ecosystems will help managers, scientists, industries, and the public to establish a common language for linking the environmental and economic values of the region’s natural assets in a way that encourages protection of and investments in these resources.

Forest Service researchers are collaborating with the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center to design and implement the inventory and synthesis of assessments, which will be delivered as an integrated component of the Appalachian LCC web portal.

Researchers have organized a large number of assessment documents, related peer-reviewed publications, and geospatial data sets, and developed web portal content on the basis of this ongoing inventory. Development of a framework for new assessment work and identification of key services and stressors is also well underway. This framework will be based on the synthesis of existing work and identification of gaps and key needs for the LCC, but will also be based upon multiple scheduled outreach meetings with various LCC partners and thematic experts in the first year of work. Future assessment work should identify vulnerabilities associated with key stressors in a spatially explicit way across the LCC, and provide managers with new understandings of the potential effectiveness of alternative management strategies, given expected environmental change.

Appalachian LCC FY13 Project Funding

Throughout Appalachian LCC Boundary