Ecosystem Services

Forests are easily recognized for the value of the wood products they provide. In addition to theses “goods,” forests provide “services:”

  • aesthetic beauty
  • filtering air to improve air quality
  • reducing soil erosion into streams and lakes
  • enabling insect pollination
  • providing places for outdoor recreation

We call these benefits “ecosystem services.” Our quality of life is dependent on the services provided by our forests, and we work with landowners to maintain these vital services on Virginia's forest landscape.

Valuing Ecosystem Services

What's the value of a scenic mountain view? Or clean water that doesn't have to go through an expensive filtration process? The natural assets of forest can be valued so that landowners can keep their land in a forested state.

The list below provides access to information to help landowners educate themselves about these options.

  • InFOREST. This user-friendly software tool that enables many users to access and run the various models that estimate ecosystem services.
  • Ecosystem Services. The Forest Service is exploring national opportunities to advance markets and payments for ecosystem services. With help from our partners and others, we will encourage broader thinking and collaboration that stimulates market-based conservation and stewardship.
  • The Carbon On Line Estimator and i-Tree are two of the tools available from the U.S. Forest Service for carbon inventory, management, and reporting.
  • Ecosystem Marketplace, a project of Forest Trends, is a leading source of news, data, and analytics on markets and payments for ecosystem services (such as water quality, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity).

Clean Water Supply

  • Forests To Faucets. The pilot project will study the link between rural landowners’ financial interests and their forestland management practices in the South Fork Rivanna River (SFRR) Reservoir watershed to municipal water consumers in the City of Charlottesville and the Urban Areas of Albemarle County.

Climate Change

  • Climate Change and Virginia Forests - The world’s forests, including the forests of Virginia, play a large, positive role in the climate change issue.