Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on 06/11/13 09:42:20

Federal Resource Management for Ecosystem Services - FRAMES


Pull up a quote for any publicly traded fund (e.g VGSIX), and you'll get a list of key stats that allow investors to evaluate whether to buy or sell shares of that fund. These funds may represent wildly different markets -VGSIX is tied to real estate, FSPHX is tied to health care, VGENX is tied to energy - yet all funds are described using the same set of basic metrics dealing with performance, risk, holdings, and expenses. In a sense, the FRAMES project mimics this: it's purpose is to develop a set of common metrics among ecosystem services to facilitate accounting at a national scale.

The FRAMES project examines frameworks for evaluating ecosystem service supply and demand at three spatial scales: national, regional, and management. The idea is to upscale individual management decisions (i.e. projects) so that impacts on ecosystem services can be evaluated consistently at broader scales. The key to doing this is to establish a common set of metrics so that the outcomes of various projects can "speak" to each other.

For example, if an agency proposes a project to reduce fire risk by clearing an area of underbrush, how can the outcomes of this project be described so that cumulative effects can be measured across various scales? Furthermore, these outcomes should be described using a set of metrics that allude to the supply and demand of an ecosystem service. So, in this case, the measured outcome could be "the number of homes with reduced fire risk".

However, the management project might also affect other ecosystem services. Clearing underbrush might also increase surface water yield, which may increase the risk of flooding downstream of the cleared area. This would be measured as number of homes with increase flood risk. Additionally, there could be recreation impacts (reduced number of hikers/year) and carbon sequestration impacts (tons of CO2 released).

The goal of FRAMES is to identify the exact metrics in which each service can be described (homes with reduced fire risk, homes with increased flood risk, hiker visits/year, tonnes CO2 released). Metrics can be quite specific at the project level and may need to be generalized when upscaling to regional or national scales. For example, one project may affect the number of hiker-visits/year while another project may affect the number hunting permits sought per year. To scale up to a regional or national level, the metrics would be generalized to "recreational visits per year". This would allow an overall accounting of the impacts on ecosystem services at broader spatial scales.

This document: Compare regional scale analysis to management scale outputs

A part of the FRAMES scaling exercise is to evaluate how well metrics can be generalized to broader scales. We want to compare management scale outputs, i.e. those that are important and useful to agency managers in achieving their mandate, to their generalized counterparts to see whether the latter still represents something meaningful.

Also, how well can broad scale (national or regional) data be used to quantify metrics? And underlying goal of FRAMES is to simplify accounting of ecosystem services, and using national or regional scale data to derived metrics not only offers consistency outcomes, but also in measurement.


The objectives of this particular analysis are twofold. First is to explore national and regional data sets and determine the relevant metrics that can be derived from them. And second is to evaluate how well these derived metrics mesh with metrics derived at the management scale. Explorations will be targeted to four specific service categories and four different management project areas.

Ecosystem service categories evaluated

(each links to its project page within this document)

Management-scale pilot project areas

  • SW Arizona (San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area/Coronado? National Forest)
  • Central California (Sierra, Inyo, and Sequoia National Forests)
  • ??
  • ??

National data sets that express relevant metrics of supply and demand for the four service categories will be identified. Maps of these metrics will be created for each of the four project areas to examine how well regional level metrics compare to management level ones. Where the comparisons are reasonably good, we might be able to estimate supply and demand of ecosystem services across other regions (without management scale effort). Where the comparisons are not so good, we can explore why and what might be done to narrow the gap between regional and management estimates.

In doing this exercise, we also hope to specify the exact metrics used in ecosystem service accounting across different scales.