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Goal: Deliver Benefits to the Public Forests enhance the economic value of water resource ecosystem services

A river

Forests protect and enhance multiple values of water resources. (Courtesy photo by


SRS scientists Tom Holmes and James M. Vose, and RMRS scientist Travis Warziniak describe how changes in forest cover alter the provision of water resource ecosystem services and how the economic value of these services can be estimated.


Forest vegetation is a valuable source of natural capital and the provision of water quantity and quality are among the most important forest ecosystem services in many regions around the world. The contribution of forest cover to water resource ecosystem services and human well-being is often ignored or under-represented in land use decision-making. Ecosystem service valuation methods integrate biophysical with economic models to provide coherent information on the consequences of land use change on water resources and human welfare. A detailed description of the steps to be followed in conducting large-scale (e.g., statewide) ecosystem valuation assessments of water resources associated with forest landscapes is provided along with the general concepts that guide ecosystem service valuations.

Principal Investigator
Thomas Holmes, Research Forester
4804 - Forest Economics and Policy
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Water, Air, and Soil
Forest Ecosystem services: Water resources
Research Partners
James M. Vose, Project Leader
Travis Warziniak, Research Economist, Rocky Mountain Research Station
External Partner
Bill Holman, The Conservation Fund, Chapel Hill, NC