Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

Early in the data collection process, it became clear that the U.S. Northeast, in varying capacities, is not in deficit of public-facing programs or organizations working towards the provisioning of ecosystem services on working lands. Due to constraints of time and insider knowledge of emerging (but unadvertised) programs, our data collection does not represent a census of all programs in existence but, rather, can be considered a quasi-representative sample of programs available to land managers and producers. Analysis of incentive programs began by separating the data between the specific types of working landscapes eligible for an incentive program. From these data, four broad categories emerged: 1) farming, food, and agriculture; 2) working forests and woodlands; 3) fisheries, aquaculture, and shellfish; and 4) non-industrial supporting landscapes and systems.

Within each of these categories, the data was further coded for several program attributes, including:

• The named funder or purveyor of the incentive program as well as its agency and department, affiliation with the public or private sector or a public-private-partnerships (PPPs), and the geographic reach (or scale) of the program in its entirety (listed by state in Section 4.5.2) • The specific entity stated to be eligible for the incentive program (if not stated clearly, eligibility was determined from the program description) • The type of indirect or direct incentives and mechanisms by which the incentives are offered to the eligible entities (in Section 3.2.3) (Some incentive mechanisms were not clearly in the program description and were assigned a category based on the inferred benefit of the incentive.); • The primary, dominant category of ecosystem functions and services that the inventive is intended to assist (in Section 3.2.1) (While it was clear that many programs undoubtedly incentivize more than one ecosystem function and service, programs were conservatively assigned a category based on the predominant inferred intention and mission of the incentive.) Next, programs were analyzed based on the relationships among eligible entities, purveying organizations, and target ecosystem services, especially as relevant among private, public, and PPPs. To visualize these connections, alluvial plots were used to link the relationships among these categories of interest (Figure 2).

Figure 2. What is an alluvial plot?

Alluvial plots are a type of flow diagram, showing the connections among different categories of data (Brunson 2020). The overall quantities, or frequency, of data per category are connected by ribbons, where narrower ribbons represent fewer quantities (and smaller connections) and thicker ribbons represent larger quantities (and more robust connections). The alluvial plots shown in this report connect: • The institutional sector issuing or administering each incentive program The IPBES ecosystem function and services that the incentive program is intended to enhance or produce.

Photo Credit: R Studio Community (2019)


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