Verde River Ecosystem values
The Verde River Ecosystem Values Final Report is available here.
The Landsward Institute’s current Verde Initiatives include complementary but distinct projects referred to as Verde River Ecosystems Values (Phase 1), and Verde River Science Outreach and Education (Phase 2). The following summary is of Phase 1.
Verde Ecosystems Values (Phase 1) will focus on the identification of ecosystem values provided by the Verde River. Ecosystem values can be simply understood to be the goods and services derived from, “the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life” (Daily 1997). The goal of Phase 1 is to provide the stakeholders (including tribes, municipalities, and resource managers) of the Verde Valley with an evaluation of the ecosystem values, or goods and services; they receive from the Verde River. EMA is in Step 1 of this process which is to interview community leaders to develop a list of those values. The list will be used by an economic expert to develop the procedure and methods in Step 2 which involves determining more specific weighted equivalents or scaling of each of the values.
Ecological values to be identified can be resumed into three broad categories: Use Values (direct and indirect), Non-Use Values and Option Values. Examples of these values to be analyzed in Phase 1 are bulleted below:
- Wildlife viewing
- Non-timber forest products
- Wildlife habitat
- Nutrient renewal
- Ecosystem services
- Any Use or Non-Use value to be used in the future.
- Option values are secured through proper management of existing ecosystems.
|Use||Non-Use||Option (Future Use)|
Step 1 will entail creating a list of ecosystem values provided by the Verde River (aquatic and related terrestrial ecosystem services) locally by conducting a ‘functional inventory’ to identify component ecosystem service providers (ESPs).
Step 2 will involve measuring or estimating the importance of each ESP contribution. For instance, the presence of riparian vegetation and stable stream banks may not be highly valued in its own right by residents of the Valley, but these features, because of in minimizing flood events that may result in direct and indirect economic losses to human inhabitants, are likely to be valued very highly.
Through the economic evaluation of such values, social costs or benefits that otherwise would remain hidden or unappreciated are revealed. With a better understanding of the ecological benefits of the Verde River system, the stakeholder communities will be better able to design more effective water and land management polices.
Daily, Gretchen, ed. 1997. Nature’s Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
Northern Arizona University
PO Box 5845
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5845
Applied Research and Development Bld., #56
Phone (928) 523-0716
Fax (928) 523-0717
Karan English, Director
Phone: (928) 523-0670
Patty West, Program Coordinator
Phone: (928) 523-0736