Ecosystem Services Scenario Assessment using EPA H2O
Background: Effects of Land Use Decisions
Land use decisions can affect the benefits that nature provides to people (ecosystem services) in both planned and unplanned ways. In particular, decisions affecting water resources can impact service provision in downstream ecosystems. Hydrologic connectivity (watersheds) can be used to identify and even quantify potential unintended consequences of land use decisions.
Assessing Land Use Effects Using The EPA H2O Tool
EPA H2O is a desktop GIS-based decision support tool for assessing the provision of ecosystem services under different land use scenarios. Users can explore the spatial arrangement of ecosystem goods and services at regional to local scales, complete spatial queries along hydrological networks, and generate customized reports for scenario comparisons, all to gain a better understanding of where ecosystem services are produced and how land use change might affect future production. The tool is simple yet powerful with a graphical user interface designed for basic or advanced users. It demonstrates a fully populated case study database with the functionality to create new databases for other communities.
EPA H2O's Reporting Functions
EPA H2O’s reporting functions allow users to readily distribute findings to clients/stakeholders. EPA H2O
- Was originally designed to support ecosystem goods and services assessment in the Tampa Bay1 watershed.
- Provides a capacity to assess alternative land use scenarios in terms of a prosperous and environmentally sustainable future.
- Benefits a variety of users through summary reports of ecosystem services upstream and within their location of interest.
- Allows advanced users to compare different alternative future land use scenarios for Tampa Bay (or other regions) by altering, for example, the placement and shape of land use parcels, transportation paths, and the monetary value benefit functions.
Download EPA H2O
This tool currently houses an internal database for the Tampa Bay Region, but offers a transferable platform that can be used by other communities.