Coverage of the Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference – July 31

Practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, and educators in the ecosystem services field have arrived from all over the world (47 countries if you’re counting) in Portland, Oregon for the 5th Annual Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Genevieve Bennett is live-blogging the conference.

July 31, 2012 – Afternoon

The afternoon has been a bit of a blur, with five hours of parallel five-minute oral presentations. This meant having to choose between a lot of great work being presented. I spent most of my time in the ‘Policy’ and ‘Quantifying’ rooms. Some highlights:

– Nikola Smith of the US Forest Service spoke about the agency’s work incorporating ecosystem services into its forest management activities: “We’d like to move from outcomes, like millions of board feet or miles of streams restored, to outputs like ecosystem services,” Smith said. The Forest Service has been using the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon as one test case to identify key ecosystem benefits from forestland, effects of different management activities, and trade-offs between these benefits. They’re also supporting the Forests to Faucets project that models and maps the role forests play in providing drinking water to downstream communities.

Smith noted that an ecosystem services approach has been useful in demonstrating to neighboring private forestland owners the economic sense behind sustainable forest management practices. That being said, she cautioned that the Forest Service wasn’t coming from an “income, market perspective” but instead sees the value of ecosystem services as driving “an integrated, landscape management approach.”

– Nancy Steele of the Los Angeles Council for Watershed Health talked about an innovative project using stormwater runoff to safely recharge groundwater in L.A. via green infrastructure installations. The single street chosen for the demonstration project drained a full 40 acres, and was highly built up with lots of impermeable surfaces and no storm drains. This meant chronic flooding. But the geology of the area was right, with good soils for infiltration.

Now the project developers are seeking similarly good sites for more demonstration projects, and the cities of Los Angeles and Burbank are developing stormwater capture master plans. Steele says that L.A. is ultimately aiming at 50,000 acre-feet a year of stormwater capture and infiltration; the city famously relies on piping water from far-flung places for its water supplies, yet could do much more to capture rainfall and encourage greater groundwater recharge.

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