200732200 - Ecosystem Economics Model for Willamette Basin Restoration and Conservation
Sponsor: David Evans and Associates, Inc.
Budgets: FY07: $425,919 | FY08: $143,650 | FY09: $0
Short description: This project will develop an system dynamics model of the Willamette Basin to map the ecosystem benefits of restoration and conservation scenarios and their associated economic value.
Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)
Funding category: Expense
Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0
ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable
This is an inadequate proposal that describes an overly general approach to a very large undertaking, without specific links to ongoing work in the subbasin. The problem this proposal states is the need to take a systematic approach to coordination and decisionmaking in the use of natural resources, given competing demands, growing population, and the need for sustainability. The project would develop a system dynamics model for evaluating investment in fish and wildlife recovery on the basis of ecosystem functions and services. The background states that instead of project-level assessments, it is important to take a long-term look at repair and restoration of ecosystem functions provided by terrestrial and aquatic habitat, with a recognition that these systems are linked through water quality and quantity, and that the ecosystem functions provide value to humans and wildlife. The systems model proposed would use spatial and dynamic modeling to assess the portfolio value of ecosystem services in the Willamette Subbasin and provide a means to estimate ecosystem functional return on investments in fish and wildlife. The analytical challenge is to identify spatial locations of water stocks and flow, their ecosystem services, and their alteration by human uses. A diagram of a conceptual model illustrates this point. The utility of spatial systems modeling is described in general terms. Literature on GIS-based, dynamic spatial models, human dynamics, ecosystem service valuation, etc. is cited. The value of ecosystem services is discussed in general terms. A table associates ecosystem functions with services. The proposal provides a lengthy but general description of how the project would approach the valuation and modeling of ecosystem services. It gives examples of conservation investment areas that could be addressed in a portfolio framework: stormwater management, flood management, restoration employment, etc. Publications and documents related to the Willamette Subbasin are not cited. The general discussion is of the need to take a long-term integrated approach to resource sustainability, given that ecosystem services are valuable and are the subject of competing demands. This is not a novel point, and the section does not establish the nature of the problem beyond a general statement of needs. What would have been more compelling is to tie the discussion directly to the Willamette Subbasin where this project will be situated. Is there a gap in the way the futures planning under the Willamette Subbasin Plan will be addressed by this project? Beyond a general description and hypothetical examples, what is the nature of the problem this proposal addresses? Where is the specific value-added by this work? The absence of coordinated decisionmaking is not established. The proposal cites restoration priorities and the need for coordinated planning, as presented in the subbasin plan. It relates the proposed model to increased institutional capacity, opportunities for cost-effective partnering, etc., but does not describe how specifically it will do this. The proposal does not tie the proposed work to ongoing work in the subbasin; connections with other projects are only potential and only briefly described The proposal has six objectives relating to building a model: developing a data set, characterize functional relationships, build model, estimate values of ecosystem services, describe portfolio of opportunities based on trades among consumers of ecosystem services, build expert systems tools. These are generally articulated but without timelines or metrics. Methods are generally described as processes of working with existing and ongoing efforts in the region. Some existing databases from which they intend to extract data are cited; the assumption is made that existing data will be close to sufficient for modeling, with gaps addressed through expert opinions or other approaches. The data sets are enormous. Constructing the Influence Diagram (stocks and flows within a boundary) will be the most challenging - and exciting - part of this project, demanding a huge range of expertise, and a lot of time and coordination. Using existing programs will no doubt help, but their boundaries will inevitably under- and overlap, with a lot of stitching needed once the gaps and laps are confirmed. The model will need to have several scales of definition (e.g. picturing the Willamette subbasin from 10,000ft, 1,000ft and 100ft). Drawing boundaries around the area will be a great challenge as the socio-economic issues are considered. The value of ecosystem services will be estimated theoretically using existing methods left undescribed except for the benefit-transfer method (in which resource values estimated in one setting are applied in another), which is highly problematic and subject to transfer error because of differences in characteristics between the two settings. The sponsors propose to address weaknesses in this method by supplementing with interviews with academic researchers in ecosystem services. Work elements under the portfolio assessment objective and the expert systems tool development are quite generally described. The proposal does not provide a clear specific picture of how the project will produce products of value.
State/province recommendation: Not fundable
Review group: OSPIT - Estuary
Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0
Comment: Project deemed not fundable by ISRP.
State/province recommendation: MS: Recommended Action
Review group: MSRT
Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)
Comment: This is the only project that addresses cost effectiveness of actions proposed for the FY07-09 process. The proposal builds out from existing biological technical infrastructure that was developed for subbasin planning and recovery planning.