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Ecosystem Vulnerability: Assessment       Approaches from EPA’s Regional       Vulnerability Assessment (ReVA)            ...
What Makes an Ecosystem “Vulnerable”?• Condition     Pristine, Good, Stressed, Degraded• Sustainability     f (ecosystem s...
ReVA OverviewProblemGiven multiple stresses affecting multiple endpoints simultaneously,how can limited resources be targe...
Future Scenarios:Projections of Major Drivers ofEcological Change           In the US, despite compliance with           e...
Projecting Land Use ChangeSuite of methods:• Economics• Planned roads, developments• Rural and urban change               ...
Resource Extraction and Special AreasLow                                          Globally-unique area in                 ...
Current and Future (2020) Projections for the Mid-Atlantic Region Drivers of Ecological Change                            ...
Where will valuedresources be subjected toadditional stress?                 Use by EPA                 Regional Offices t...
Charlotte MSA         Demonstrating Trade-offs                                         North Carolina                     ...
Choices:                  Development AlternativesGrowth as Usual                     Centers of                          ...
Alternative Scenarios of                  DevelopmentMedium Density Development          Compact Centers Development•   Fe...
Low Density   High Density                             Net Changes, all                             metrics combined      ...
Change drivers of interest for                  Midwestern place-based studyEnergy Independence and Security Actmandates i...
Projection of 2022 landscape changes due                to biofuel targets: Parcel change from                corn/soybean...
Implications of Forecast Change:                                     Increase in nitrogen fertilizationIncrease in corn pr...
Combining spatial data to improvecommunity exposure estimates     Atrazine application + individual     surface water use ...
Exposure: Service value is related to the ability tomitigate or reduce risk                                  Combined inde...
Integration of Spatial Data: the Method Used Matters!All of these maps were produced using thesame set of data; only the i...
EnviroAtlas                                                   National, coast-to-coast ,                                  ...
Potential for Tree Cover  to Buffer Airborne Pollutants from Busy  Roadways (estimated threshold is > 25% cover within    ...
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Keynote presentation from Elizabeth Smith. Ecosystem Vulnerability: Assessment Approaches from EPA’s Regional Vulnerabilit...
Keynote presentation from Elizabeth Smith. Ecosystem Vulnerability: Assessment Approaches from EPA’s Regional Vulnerabilit...
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Keynote presentation from Elizabeth Smith. Ecosystem Vulnerability: Assessment Approaches from EPA’s Regional Vulnerability Assessment (ReVA) Program

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Elizabeth Smith, ssociate National Program Director, Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program, US EPA was the keynote speaker at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation's Joint Public Advisory Committee meeting in December 2012 in Merida, Mexico.

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Keynote presentation from Elizabeth Smith. Ecosystem Vulnerability: Assessment Approaches from EPA’s Regional Vulnerability Assessment (ReVA) Program

  1. 1. Ecosystem Vulnerability: Assessment Approaches from EPA’s Regional Vulnerability Assessment (ReVA) Program • Betsy Smith, Ph.D. • Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program • CEC JPAC WorkshopOffice of Research and Development • Merida, Yucatan, MexicoSustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program Dec. 13, 2012
  2. 2. What Makes an Ecosystem “Vulnerable”?• Condition Pristine, Good, Stressed, Degraded• Sustainability f (ecosystem sensitivity, resiliency; stressors affecting)• Value to Society Aesthetics, Economic Opportunities, Goods and ServicesWhat Drives Risk Management Decisions?• Feasibility, Clear Options, Economics What works where?, Range of method applicability
  3. 3. ReVA OverviewProblemGiven multiple stresses affecting multiple endpoints simultaneously,how can limited resources be targeted to maximize benefits andminimize problems?How do we incorporate various perspectives to balance amongcompeting priorities?Clients EPA Regional Offices (enforce regulations) EPA Program Offices (set regulations) State and Local Decision-makers (manage compliance with regulations) ....Anyone faced with this and no tools at hand to do it well...
  4. 4. Future Scenarios:Projections of Major Drivers ofEcological Change In the US, despite compliance with environmental regulations, biological populations are continuing to decline. Major drivers of change include: Land use change Resource extractions Pollution and pollutants Exotic invasive species Climate change
  5. 5. Projecting Land Use ChangeSuite of methods:• Economics• Planned roads, developments• Rural and urban change Input into decisions affecting  Conservation of native biodiversity  Increased risk of flooding  Nonpoint source pollution  Urban sprawl/quality of life  Drinking water quality and supply  Pests and pathogens in forests  Economic opportunities
  6. 6. Resource Extraction and Special AreasLow Globally-unique area in terms of intact, deciduous,High temperate forest Among the most biodiverse areasProjected Change in Hardwood Removals Habitat for large migratory speciesin the Mid-Atlantic Region through 2020 Highest unemployment in regionCurrent patterns of forest Targeted by Mountain-top removal miningfragmentation Expansion of chip mills from SE Potential Impacts on Native biodiversity Water quality Quality of life
  7. 7. Current and Future (2020) Projections for the Mid-Atlantic Region Drivers of Ecological Change Giant SalviniaLand use/land cover Modeled using GARP Modeled using SLEUTH Modeled using CMAQ
  8. 8. Where will valuedresources be subjected toadditional stress? Use by EPA Regional Offices to prioritize management options Watersheds in blue are candidates for use of Region 3’s discretionary funds for water monitoring, continuing existing projects, initiating new projects, partnerships with local communities for responsible development…..
  9. 9. Charlotte MSA Demonstrating Trade-offs North Carolina Mecklenburg County Adjacent Counties South CarolinaSustainableEnvironment forQuality of Life• Promotes integrated planning to protect the environment and quality of life while promoting economic win-wins• Landmark regional partnership for integrated planning• One of the first of its kind in the nation• 15-county region, encompassing approximately 10,000 square miles• Federal, State, and Local Governments in partnership
  10. 10. Choices: Development AlternativesGrowth as Usual Centers of Development OR Resulting patterns of land consumption
  11. 11. Alternative Scenarios of DevelopmentMedium Density Development Compact Centers Development• Fewer Houses per Acre • More Houses per Acre• More Land Consumption • Less Land Consumption• Decentralized Employment • Centralized Employment• Growth Less Linked to Transit • Growth Linked to Transit
  12. 12. Low Density High Density Net Changes, all metrics combined Watersheds in yellow showed better overall conditions resulting from high density development over low density (sprawl)
  13. 13. Change drivers of interest for Midwestern place-based studyEnergy Independence and Security Actmandates increased production and use ofbiofuels • Biofuels – Potential for rapid, large-scale changes in land use or land Locations of ethanol biorefineries and FML boundary management Conservation Reserve Program Participation – Implicit trade-offs among ecosystem ($/acre) services • Agricultural conservation practices – Existing area of large investment, uncertain benefit – Increasing interest in ecosystem service-based incentives and markets
  14. 14. Projection of 2022 landscape changes due to biofuel targets: Parcel change from corn/soybean to continuous corn Detail for Corn Belt area in Illinois In the Corn Belt, corn/soybean rotation will change to continuous corn, requiring greater chemical inputs and depleting soil productivityBase Year (2001) Biofuel Targets (2022) Corn/soybean Continuous rotation corn
  15. 15. Implications of Forecast Change: Increase in nitrogen fertilizationIncrease in corn production Corn production change (bushels per 30-m raster) Increase in atrazine application
  16. 16. Combining spatial data to improvecommunity exposure estimates Atrazine application + individual surface water use + population density
  17. 17. Exposure: Service value is related to the ability tomitigate or reduce risk Combined index: AtrazineEstimated Atrazine application application and population for Base Year landscape using surface water supplies Potential risk only – Risk + Exposure – incomplete endpoint a better endpoint 18
  18. 18. Integration of Spatial Data: the Method Used Matters!All of these maps were produced using thesame set of data; only the integrationmethod differsShould ask:Is the method robust given the data being synthesized?Is the method addressing the right question?For more info on see www.epa.gov/reva :Guidelines to Assessing Regional Vulnerability
  19. 19. EnviroAtlas National, coast-to-coast , scalable coverage of metrics for: • ecosystem services • built environment • demographics • drivers of change (e.g. pollution, population growth, development) Analytical tools to: • screen • compare • assess • evaluate scenariosHi-resolution classification and analysis for250 urban areas across country• linking ecosystem services to human health andwell-being• allowing queries on subpopulations of concern•20identifying actions to mitigate pollution andreduce energy costs
  20. 20. Potential for Tree Cover to Buffer Airborne Pollutants from Busy Roadways (estimated threshold is > 25% cover within 26m of road edge)Greater Durham, NC (Chapel Hill detail)
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  22. 22. Questions?

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