Forests and Ecosystem Services
Nature’s services to humans — be it clean water, carbon absorption or fertile soils — are the foundation of our regional and global economies. Halving world deforestation, for instance, would absorb enough carbon to offset $3.7 trillion in expected damages to the world economy over the next two decades. Until very recently, the value of these ecosystem services hasn’t been integrated into long-term decision making by governments, companies and individual landowners. That’s changing and Ecotrust is leading the way.
The goal of the Forests and Ecosystem Services program is to transform the dominant forest management paradigm here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world to one that more closely mimics natural forest processes, while providing society with significant and measurable benefits. The purpose of our work is to build enduring social, economic and environmental value for our region, as an example for how other regions of the world can similarly build value.
We are accomplishing this by showing that our forests can store more carbon, provide high quality habitat for native fish and wildlife, offer recreational and economic development opportunities, and produce clean and abundant water, all while supporting a more robust and reliable forest products industry.
How We Work
Ecotrust has been a leader in developing forest carbon markets in the Pacific Northwest, showing the potential of ecological forestry to generate revenue from carbon markets. We also worked with partners to develop a Verified Carbon Standard methodology to quantify carbon in forests.
We offer public, private, and tribal land managers a growing suite of conservation prioritization and forest planning tools. We also evaluate the potential economic and jobs benefits of ecological forestry and habitat restoration for our clients and partners.
Through our Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative, a public-private partnership program, we invest in fish and wildlife habitat restoration in areas that have high ecological importance and strong community support in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Consulting with municipalities, tribes, businesses and other entities, we explain and quantify the economic, social and environmental benefits provided by ecosystems services. We also examine the value of ecosystem services in serving as green urban infrastructure and accommodating the growth in demand for clean water, food and carbon sequestration.
Our urban ecosystem services report on the greater Portland area details the city’s capacity to sequester carbon, manage stormwater, and feed its population through investments in green infrastructure and land management.
Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our team developed a software application that helps the agency and other stakeholders decide how to maximize investments in species conservation and habitat restoration.
As part of our forest carbon work, we led the development of the largest voluntary carbon offset project on tribal forest lands within the United States. In Oregon, we modeled the carbon sequestration potential of the Elliott State Forest under different management regimes to inform decision makers on the climate impacts of proposed management options. We also published a landowner’s guide to forest carbon projects.
We quantified the carbon sequestered by forests owned and managed by a group of six family landowners from six different counties in northwest Oregon.
Our program evaluated the total additional carbon storage of tree planting programs being used to help Portland’s Clean Water Services meet temperature reduction requirements for the Tualatin River.
Collaborating with the Siuslaw Basin Partnership, we spent five years implementing restoration, protection, and market connections projects in the Siuslaw River watershed. We also worked with the Siuslaw National Forest and community stakeholders to launch the Mary’s Peak Stewardship Group, which has implemented millions of dollars of restoration projects sustaining dozens of local jobs.