Uncovering the Ecosystem Service Value of Carbon Sequestration in National Parks

Research Project: 

RB00FYX.1.1

Project Manager: 

Chris Huber
Uncovering the Ecosystem Service Value of Carbon Sequestration in National Parks. Photo by Robert Crootof, NPS.
Uncovering the Ecosystem Service Value of Carbon Sequestration in National Parks. Photo by Robert Crootof, NPS.

The National Park Service (NPS) preserves and protects more than 84 million acres of important historic, cultural, and natural resources across 401 sites for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Protected resources and landscapes managed by the National Park Service contribute to the societal welfare of the American public, reflected by ecosystem service values derived from their use as well as their preservation.

Social and Economic Analysis (SEA) Branch economists at the Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) are working in collaboration with the National Park Service to update an NPS report that estimates the ecosystem service value of carbon sequestration for all parks within the conterminous United States. The initial report, “Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration in National Parks—Values for the Conterminous United States,” was published in April 2015 and is available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.

SEA economists will use existing data sources to estimate the nonmarket ecosystem service value of climate regulation as a function of carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems from park units located in Alaska and Hawaii. The estimates will be based on three data sources: 1) annual net carbon balance data modeled by the USGS LandCarbon Program, 2) spatially explicit NPS land unit boundaries located in Hawaii and Alaska, and 3) social cost of carbon estimates. A geographic information system (GIS) overlay analysis will be used to calculate the average net metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestered annually by park unit under baseline conditions (2001-2005). This information can then be combined with social cost of carbon estimates to reveal the associated economic value of this ecosystem service to society.