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Key Ecosystem Benefits

Ecosystem services are the benefits that people receive from nature. Appalachian landscapes provide a multitude of such benefits. The different benefits that are realized in different places can depend on the kinds of ecosystems present — wetlands or hardwood forests; who lives there and who utilizes the resources; ties to local and regional economies; and local land use histories.

While examples of ecosystem benefits are almost too many to count, there are several crucially important services which have been the focus of natural resource managers, researchers, and conservation practitioners. This is due to concern that increased reliance on ecosystem benefits by a growing population, changes in land use and climate, and other changes in landscape dynamics may place these resources at risk. Understanding these risks and the trade-offs involved in managing for multiple valued ecosystem benefits is the first step towards sustaining resources into the future.

These pages explore major ecosystem benefits which have been studied within the Appalachian LCC region, and their relationship to different large-scale risk factors.