Georgia’s forests provide essential ecosystem services like water filtration, carbon storage, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty.

The United Nations led a four-year assessment of the status and trends of the world’s ecosystems. This Millennium Assessment groups ecosystems services into four broad categories:

  1. Provisioning Services: The production of food, fiber, clean water, and other goods
  2. Regulating Services: Regulation of climate/temperature, the spread disease, and control rate, quality and output of water
  3. Supporting Services: Examples include new soil formation, carbon sequestration, nutrient and waste recycling, and pollination
  4. Cultural Services: The educational, aesthetic, cultural heritage values of ecosystems, including tourism and recreation

Traditionally, most ecosystem services are considered free benefits to society. These public goods provide the basis for sustainable economies, communities, and livelihoods, but have no recognized economic value in the marketplace.

The vital contributions of ecosystem services often go unrecognized in individual, corporate, and public decision making. When forests and other ecosystems are undervalued, they are more susceptible to development pressures and conversion to non-forest uses.

Over the past decade, many efforts have been made to place value on ecosystem services and to establish market-based incentives that reward landowners for maintaining and enhancing the ecosystem services that their forests provide to all of us.

Georgia’s Private Forestland

Georgia’s 22 million acres of private forestland provide society with non-timber benefits and services worth more than $37.6 billion every year, according to a 2011 study led by Dr. Rebecca Moore at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Quantifying the Value of Non-Timber Ecosystem Services from Georgia’s Private Forests” reveals that private forests have value for everyone, not just forest landowners. The value of ecosystem services range from $264 to $13,442 per acre, depending upon forest characteristics.

Helpful Resources

Review studies, reports and more to learn more about ecosystems services.

TitleDescriptionDocument Type
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Bloom or Bust?

A Document of the UNEP FI Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Work Stream (BESW).

Ecosystem Marketplace

Launched as a web-based information platform in 2004, Ecosystem Marketplace publishes newsletters, breaking news, original feature articles and major reports about market-based approaches to conserving ecosystem services.

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Ecosystem Services – A Guide for Decision Makers

A Guide for Decision Makers: by Janet Ranganathan, Karen Bennett, Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, Nicolas Lucas, Frances Irwin, Monika Zurek and Neville Ash and Paul West – March 2008

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Green Cities: Active Living

Recent research indicates that quality outdoor environments affect activity attitudes and behaviors. Urban greening contributes to more walkable places.

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Green Cities: Crime & Public Safety

This briefing summarizes the research findings on the relationship between urban vegetation and crimes, aggressive behavior, and safety.

Green Cities: Good Health

Metro nature – including trees, parks, gardens, and natural areas – enhance quality of life in cities and towns. The experience of nature improves human health and well-being in many ways. review these scientific studies that tell us how.

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Green Cities: Mental Health & Function

Both visual access and being within green space helps to restore the mind’s ability to focus. This can improve job and school performance, and help alleviate mental stress and illness.

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Green Cities: Place Attachment & Meaning

Place attachment and meaning are particularly relevant when considering issues of urban development and community-building. Attachment and meaning emerge from a variety of experiences and situations, and are often related to parks, green spaces, and natural areas. Learn more with this brief summary.

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Green Cities: Reduced Risk

Trees and vegetation can dampen ambient noise, improve air quality, cool over-heated urban centers, and be a food security solution.

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Green Cities: Safe Streets

his article surveys the research on roadside vegetation benefits, and the scientific evidence concerning city trees, and transportation safety.

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Green Cities: Social & Cultural Strengths

Urban green spaces can provide a neutral space within which people come together, social interactions occur (that include people from different backgrounds), and relationships or partnerships take form. Read this briefing for research studies.

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Green Cities: Work & Learning

Places that incorporate or are located near nature can help remedy mental fatigue and restore one’s ability to focus on tasks. The result can be better performance in the work place and classroom.

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National Water Quality Trading Program

When the water in our rivers, lakes, and oceans becomes polluted; it can endanger wildlife, make our drinking water unsafe, and threaten the waters where we swim and fish. EPA research supports efforts under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

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Quantifying the Value of Non-Timber Ecosystem Services from Georgia’s Private Forests

2011 study led by Dr. Rebecca Moore at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources quantifying the value of non-timber ecosystem services from Georgia’s private forests.

The Bay Bank Conservation Marketplace

Forests for the Bay: Keeping woodlands healthy.

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USDA Office of Environmental Markets

The Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) is a new office created within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to catalyze the development of markets for ecosystem services.

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