Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Virginia Project

Regulating Services as Measures of Ecological Resilience on DoD Lands

May 2011 - September 2015


Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Department of Defense

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This project will demonstrate the utility of using information on aquatic ecosystem services (AES) in land-use planning on two military bases (Fort Pickett, VA and Cherry Point, NC). Our overall objective is to provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with clearer insight into the current and future provision of AES germane to environmental constraints, including imperiled species, water quality, and urban encroachment. The ecological resilience provided by AES may be important when planning land uses, whether for environmental stewardship or military training. Spatially explicit knowledge of AES capacity and flow can help DoD land managers make planning decisions that enhance cost-effectiveness, minimize environmental damage, and maximize the resources available for their military mission. Land-use choices by the DoD must be made in the context of dynamic demographic, land-use, and climatic conditions on adjacent lands, which ultimately regulate AES capacity and flow. These dynamics can be depicted in future scenarios that enable land managers to plan more effectively for environmental conflicts. We will identify areas a) with high and low ecological resilience based on water purification (i.e. sediment and nutrient regulation) and water regulation (i.e. flood and drought modulation) capacity and b) likely to be affected by changes to precipitation and sediment and nutrient transport regimes as well as sea-level rise. This project provides partial support for Naga Modala (new PhD student). OBJECTIVES: Our specific technical objectives are to 1) estimate current capacity of and demand for selected AES within DoD lands, 2) forecast the effects of future DoD land use (i.e. planned military and environmental operations) and climate changes on the capacity of these AES, and 3) forecast how land-use and climate changes in nearby lands might affect future demand for AES within DoD lands. Our main research objectives include: a) Refine and demonstrate a new approach for quantifying and mapping ecosystem services. b) Examine the strengths and weaknesses of distinguishing between ES capacity and flow. c) Compare the utility of the analytical approach used herein with an analogous approach applied at a larger spatial scale in previous studies. d) Examine the utility of stakeholder-designed future scenarios for informing decisions about land-use planning. PROGRESS: We have conducted an orientation meeting with Fort Pickett staff and selected stakeholders and begun to assemble the data needed to perform the spatial analyses. We are working with Cherry Point staff to schedule an orientation meeting. We participated in a DoD-sponsored workshop with other proponents to develop performance objectives for the demonstration.