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Edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere
Chapter 10: Quantifying and valuing ecosystem services: an application of ARIES to the San Pedro River Basin, USA
A large body of research exists that identifies and values ecosystem services - the benefits that ecosystems provide to humans (MA, 2005) - and their underlying ecological processes. However, the development of software decision support tools that integrate ecology, economics and geography that can be independently used within the public, private, academic and NGO sectors is a more recent phenomenon (Ruhl et al., 2007; Daily et al., 2009). Spurred by growing demand for more sophisticated analysis of the social and economic consequences of land management decisions, the US Department of Interior - Bureau of Land Management (BLM) launched a pilot project with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to assess the usefulness and feasibility of ecosystem service assessment and valuation tools to provide inputs to decision-making. The project analysed ecosystem services in the US portion of the San Pedro River watershed, which includes the BLM-managed San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA), to improve the understanding of complex social and ecological relationships that transcend administrative divisions. The BLM manages some 99 million hectares, primarily in the western United States, and 283 million hectares of sub-surface mineral estate. BLM's multiple-use mission requires that it appropriately balance non-extractive uses such as habitat conservation, recreation and archaeological heritage protection and the extractive use of resources such as timber, oil and gas, coal, uranium, and other minerals.
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