Topic outline

  • Welcome to Ecosystem Benefits and Risks.

    Understanding the complete and diverse benefits society receives from nature as well as risks to their sustainability will allow managers, industry, and the public to adopt policies that encourage protection and investments in these resources. To meet this need, the Appalachian LCC is collaborating with the Forest Service on cutting edge research that fully integrates society’s value of ecosystems with future threats to better inform natural resource planning and management across the Appalachian landscape. This unique work provides a comprehensive resource to partners at a regional level, serving as a model for the LCC Network to deliver ecosystem services conservation science.

    The Ecosystem Benefits and Risks site with the Appalachian LCC portal serves as a clearinghouse for Appalachian ecosystem services knowledge and data and provides users with tools that are needed to make informed resource management decisions. The project was funded by the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and developed by researchers from the U.S. Forest Service.

    Pages under Ecosystem Benefits, Risks, Assessments, and Framework contain syntheses of regional ecosystem assessments, linkages for data resources, partner resources such as online decision support tools, published scientific literature, and a vision for creating new knowledge and tools for enhancing ecosystem service sustainability. This resource is the first product of a collaborative effort between the Appalachian LCC and the U.S. Forest Service. The goal of this effort is to link the values that society places on natural resources with threats to their sustainability, in a way that enhances natural resource management and conservation planning across the Appalachian landscape.

    Course Registration

    The course contents are visible without logging in. However, you will need to register here on the Landscape Partnership Learning Network in order to:

    • Receive your Certificate of Completion
    • Create and update your Profile
    • Access your Dashboard

    Certificate of Completion

    After completing the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. Simply click the course name next to the certificate icon. You must be logged in to access the certificate.

    Course Description

    This course will explain the science behind the development of the information resources, demonstrate to users how to access the data, provide examples of how this information can be used to make management decisions, and guide users through an interactive exercise using the data in a case study activity.

    This course consists of an introduction and 6 additional modules. Participants should complete the modules in sequential order. If, after reviewing the prerequisites for a module, a participant feels that they already have an understanding of the information, they can proceed to the next module. For example, if you already are familiar with the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks project but have not yet explored the information resources, you can skip to Module 2.

    In Modules 2-4, the focus is to provide an understanding of how to use the information resources and to answer questions related to conservation management. Participants will not perform additional analysis; rather they will focus on the thought process behind the analysis.

    Course Objectives

    Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

    • Develop an understanding of Ecosystem Benefits and Risks within the Appalachian geography.
    • Utilize information resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal as well as data in the Conservation Planning Atlas.
    • Apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the information resources as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility.
    • Facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the information resources to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

    Course Requirements

    Participants will complete readings, view instructional videos, complete a review quiz at the end of the course, and provide feedback regarding the course.

    Technical Requirements

    You will need to use Adobe Reader to view course materials and the ability to stream videos with sound.

  • Course Prerequisites

    Decorative icon for Course Prerequisites

    There are no prerequisites to take this course. However, within the course, participants should complete the modules in order as they build upon information in the previous modules.

    Prerequisites are covered at the beginning of each module.

  • Module 1: The Science behind Ecosystem Benefits and Risks

    Prerequisite

    Before starting this module, you should review the information in the Course Introduction module. No experience with the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks research project is necessary.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is to provide an explanation of the the work behind assessing and inventorying ecosystem benefits and environmental threats throughout the Appalachians.

    Overview

    Ecosystem services are the benefits people receive from nature. These are abundant in the Appalachians, from clean drinking water and sustainably harvested forest products to nature-based tourism. They also include the sense of home that communities find in rural landscapes and the values that Americans place on conserving biodiversity.

    These essential services and the natural resources they depend on are extremely valuable to society, but are placed at risk by processes driving landscape change in the Appalachians such as urbanization and climate change. Some processes, such as energy development, produce both risks and benefits to society. Our challenge is to find a balance that sustains all of the benefits that people value. Understanding the complete and diverse benefits society receives from nature as well as risks to their sustainability will allow managers, industry, and the public to adopt policies that encourage protection and investments in these resources.

    To meet this need, the Appalachian LCC has collaborated with the US Forest Service to provide information and tools that fully integrate society’s value of ecosystems with future threats to better inform natural resource planning and management. This resource is the first product of a collaborative effort between the Appalachian LCC and the US Forest Service. The goal of this effort is to link the values that society places on natural resources with threats to their sustainability, in a way that enhances natural resource management and conservation planning across the Appalachian landscape.

    Building upon this online synthesis of existing knowledge and data, researchers are also undertaking new assessment research to better understand how Appalachian ecosystem services are changing as a result of urbanization, energy development, climate change, and other major drivers of rapid environmental change. This new work will produce maps, reports, and other products intended to assist partners in enhancing the capacity of Appalachian landscapes to provide important natural benefits to people.


  • Module 2: Ecosystem Benefits and Risks Hands-On Exercise

    Prerequisite

    Before starting this module, you should complete Module 1. You should be familiar with the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks background information.

    Objective

    The objective of this exercise is to familiarize you with the data and resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal and Conservation Planning Atlas to assist each participant in utilizing the tool for a set of user-defined parameters.

    Overview

    Within this module, you will first watch a video presentation which provides a detailed overview of how to use the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks and the data layers currently available. The next step will be to complete a hands-on activity to complete an analysis for a watershed. The module will finish with a brief summary of the important points.


  • Module 3: Case Study Examples

    Prerequisite

    Before starting this module, you should complete Modules 1 and 2. You should be familiar with the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks background information.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the CPA data visualization tool as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding dimensions of ecosystem benefits and risks throughout Appalachia.

    Overview

    Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how Conservation Planning Atlas output can be used to aid in decisions related to conservation management. The case study scenarios provided are examples of how output from CPA can be used and integrated with other data sources to refine priorities and strategically plan for conservation management. Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying the CPA output to their own data in different geographic areas.

    After watching the video, participants should review the brief summary information.


  • Module 4: Case Study Activity

    Prerequisite

    Before starting this module, you should complete Modules 1, 2, and 3. You should be familiar with the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks background information.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is familiarize you with the Conservation Planning Atlas and utilization of the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks data within the ArcGIS platform by completing a case study example.

    Overview

    Now that you have watched the instructional videos, we are going to walk through a hands-on activity using the CPA. In this activity we will access the CPA web application and explore the different features and data that are available.

    There are two levels for this activity.

    The first level is called the Manager Level. This level will focus on using the information contained within the web application only. The activity will cover the different data layers that are available and features of the web application. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level. The second level, Technical Level, will cover the same material as the Manger Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.


  • Assessment Quiz

    This quiz is intended to assess your comprehension of the material covered in Modules 1-4 of this course.

    You will need a score of 70% to pass.

    There are a total of 10 questions. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be able to review your answers before submitting them. After you submit your answers, your results will be displayed.

    You may take the test as many times as necessary to receive the minimum score required. 

  • Participant Feedback

    If you have any questions regarding the course evaluation or prefer to provide feedback in person, please don't hesitate to email me at jessica_rhodes@fws.gov.

  • Certificate of Completion

    Course certificate imageOnce you have completed the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. The Certificate will display the name you used to create your account.

    You must be logged in to access the certificate.