The Value of Ecosystem Services in the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Forestland

Michelle Messick Gilmore

Abstract


Assigning economic value to ecosystem services allows policy officials to evaluate and determine the services of greater importance to the general public, enabling them to develop policies to protect the resources for future use. A benefit transfer study was performed to obtain the monetary value per acre allocated to eight ecosystem services from Kentucky forestland; biological control, cultural, habitat/ refugia, pollination, recreation, soil formation, water supply, and water treatment. Using the Consumer Price Index, these values were converted into 2012 US$ per acre and multiplied by the total carbon dioxide stored in Hardwood tree stands of 50 years, per county, was calculated using date from the Forest Inventory and Analysis database from the U.S. forest service and information from the Alabama Forestry Commission. To determine the value of carbon sequestered, a sensitivity analysis was done using the values of $1, $5, $10, and $25 per ton. The ecosystem service of highest value was habitat/ refugia, and the total value of carbon at $25 per ton was over $32 billion. My results suggest that Kentucky’s forest provide substantial value to the residents of Kentucky and the world in terms of ecosystem services. The valuation of ecosystem services provides information to Kentucky residents and policy makers concerning the importance of ecosystem service relative to other daily commodities. It is hoped that the results from this research will aid in the development of policies and forest management that will protect and enhance the important benefits that Kentucky’s forests provide.


Keywords


Ecosystem services; carbon sequestration; Kentucky; non-market value

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