Nature's Benefits

Project symbol for Nature's Beauty.

Forest ecosystems are human, plant, and animal life-support systems that provide a suite of goods and services vital to human health and livelihood—essentially Nature's Benefits, also called Ecosystem Services.

The Region's goal is to communicate Nature's Benefits in the context of modern-day living and connect California National Forest land management activities to benefits that the public, sees, feels, and hears.

What are Ecosystem Services—or Nature's Benefits?

Ecosystem services are the benefits people receive and value from nature—or "Nature's Benefits." This comprehensive suite of benefits provided by healthy ecosystems includes, but is not limited to:

  • clean air
  • water filtration
  • carbon sequestration
  • cultural heritage
  • pollination
  • flood control
  • jobs, commerce, and value to local economies
  • recreational opportunities and open space for communities
  • renewable and nonrenewable energy
  • increased physical and psychological wellness
  • wood products

Stories about R5 projects that are measuring for Nature’s Benefits

New contentEnsuring Nature's Benefits Now, and into the Future, following the Copper, Ranch, and Sayre Fires on the Angeles National Forest

New contentHow Fen restoration projects ensure a healthy hydrologic system on the Plumas National Forest

Making Jeffrey Pines More Fire Resilient to Ensure Food Supply and Cultural Traditions (Nature's Benefits) are Available to Native Tribes

Dam Removal on the Cleveland National Forest to Provide Nature's Benefits

Restoring Nature's Benefits through the Lake Tahoe West Partnership

Measuring Nature’s Benefits on the Large Landscape Western Klamath Restoration Partnership Project Area

Identifying the value of Nature's Benefits for the first time with the Thompson Creek Meadow Restoration Project

Measuring Nature's Benefits on the Caples Project: A Pristine Landscape on the South Fork of the American River

Nature's Benefits and Hemlock: What do they have in common??

The American River Headwaters and French Meadows Project: Measuring Nature's Benefits in response to improving forest health through a collaborative, landscape-scale restoration project

Black Mountain Forest and Watershed Restoration

The Sequoia National Forest's Land Acquisition Expands Nature's Benefits

30,000 Look at Nature's Benefits:

Region 5 manages more than 20 million acres of forests and grasslands across California which:

  1. sustain more than 23 million annual visitors and 39 million California residents;
  2. more than half the state's water supply or the equivalent of over 11 trillion gallons of water flows from National Forest upper watersheds; has a $3.2B annual value of water market wholesale by sector in California, a $367B cost of water to LA households using 100 gallons per day (on a monthly water bill of $100), and a cost of $583M to San Joaquin farmers per acre foot; which helps support a thriving agricultural economy that generates more than $47.7 billion annually.

Other critical values from California's National Forests include:

  1. hydroelectric power plants where more than 9,749 megawatts of installed hydro plant capacity has the ability to meet the power needs of over 7.3 million households;
  2. $112.4 million in lumber and forest wood products;
  3. 950.56 million metric tons of forest carbon stocks, or more than half of the State's forest carbon, and
  4. 18,390 jobs and $714,500,000 in labor income (wages) generated by recreation visitors.

Nature's Benefits provide provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services that are the "natural capital" base of our nation's economies and communities.

Capturing the Story of Benefits from the National Forests in California:

To capture the story of how Nature's Benefits are so critical and compulsory to humankind, Region 5 is communicating in the context of modern-day living and connecting land management activities to benefits that the public, sees, feels, and hears.

Why are we talking about Nature’s Benefits now?

Frequent wildland fires in California and climate change stressors, including drought and bark beetle infestation, are causing Region 5 land managers to target ecological restoration of wildlands and forests to make them more resilient to these disturbances.

By integrating Nature's Benefits analysis into forest policy, management, and research, we hope to strengthen the connection between National Forests and the benefits they provide, and communicate to those who benefit from them in ways that they value. Understanding how to quantify and qualify Nature's Benefits will allow us to assess landscape change over time, review and understand tradeoffs from management actions as well as communicate the benefits that come from National Forests.

What efforts are the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service engaging in now?

1. Land Managers in the Region are working together with partners across all land boundaries to accelerate ecological restoration in order to maximize and sustain the critical benefits from nature that people have come to rely on in their daily lives.

  • Efforts are being directed at sustaining or increasing the volume and reliability of the essential flow of natural resources and ecosystem services that are valued and used by people, including wood, fiber, water, air and water purification, flood and climate regulation, biodiversity, scenic landscapes, cultural sites, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration and storage.

2. Forest-level restoration activities not only seek to bolster and maintain Nature's Benefits that are quantifiable and physical in nature, such as water, air, and carbon, but also benefits that are cultural and include social and economic advantages.

  • Cultural values such as recreation, solitude, spiritual experience and aesthetic values are critical to both social values and community economies because they contribute to the overall wellness of human beings and their livelihoods.
  • Memories are created from recreating and spending time amongst the aesthetics associated with healthy forests creating significant value to families and communities.
  • Wellness associated with exercise and the outdoors provides both social and economic values for both communities and the local economy (emphasis on recreation industry).
  • Traditions associated with ceremonial and non-ceremonial activities on the forest are built and revisited as part of tribal life.

3. To address these values, the Region is exploring innovative solutions and partnerships to leverage its own work and accelerate the pace and scale of restoration so that Nature's Benefits may be sustained and strengthened.

  • Working together with federal, state, local, and private landowners, the Region hopes to discuss and review trade-offs and decisions that will ultimately make people's lives better.
  • The Region is also looking for scalable models.

4. By communicating the value of California's forests we can strengthen people's connections to the land and Nature's Benefits.

  • Positive benefits from the National Forests in California not only impact people's lives now and future generations
  • Ultimately incentivizing citizen-stewardship and volunteerism on California's forests, as well as bring offers of important resources.

Region 5 Communications for Nature's Benefits will initially focus on the Values of Carbon, Water, Air, Energy, Recreation, Local Economies, with a series of communications products made available here to the public.