Ecosystem Services, Wetlands and Houston s Growth. Jim Lester

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1 Ecosystem Services, Wetlands and Houston s Growth Jim Lester

2 Definitions (MEA 2005) Ecosystem: a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and the nonliving environment interacting in a functional unit Ecosystem services: benefits people receive from ecosystems including various functions, products, stocks and flows of goods and services

3 MEA CLASSIFICATION of ES Provisioning provides direct material and consumable benefits Food and fiber Timber and minerals Fuels Medicinal resources Cultural Services provides direct social and spiritual benefits Recreation Spiritual and historic Science and education Regulation provides direct benefits to support and maintain control of ecosystems Climate regulation Waste treatment Water regulation Nutrient regulation Supporting - provides direct benefits to support and maintain control of ecosystems Primary production Nutrient cycling Water cycling

4 Classification of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (EPA)- Wetlands and Estuaries Ecosystem Attributes Human beneficiaries Water quality Agriculture Water amount Industry Plants and animals Transportation Sensory experience Government agencies Residential Recreational interests Cultural groups Subsistence users

5 Value of Ecosystem Changes? Temporal and spatial scale for valuation Local, regional or global Episodic, short term, long term Values from market, risk avoidance or hedonic behavior Wetland to farmland or golf course, ES Δ?

6 Wetland Services vs. Land Value Major positive benefits of urban wetlands (no provisioning) Stormwater retention (regulatory; risk avoidance) Nutrient and pollutant assimilation (regulatory; cost avoidance) Habitat (regulatory, cultural; cost avoidance) Heat island amelioration (regulatory; risk and cost avoidance) Major issues with urban wetland protection Loss of land value if undeveloped Increased cost of development and infrastructure if wetlands protected Lack of regulatory and nonregulatory frameworks for protection at various levels of government

7 LU/LC Map of Houston 2010

8 Floodplains and Wetland Loss

9 Houston Region and Wetlands Harris County is currently 16.7% floodplain Reduced by development Neighboring counties are 21% 46% floodplain From Lower Galveston Bay Watershed lost 13,911 acres of wetlands to development (0.15% per year) Texas Coast palustrine wetlands (prairie complexes) Typical size 0.5 ac 25 ac Typical depth 3 in 16 in Typical palustrine wetland stores 76% - 93% of annual input

10 Prairie Pothole Wetland Complexes

11 How Palustrine Wetlands Work Functional Analysis of Local Palustrine Wetland in

12 Methods of Quantifying ES Physical model of storm water retention Cost avoidance for construction of storage Value of avoided property damage Ecological production functions Value of vegetation growth in nutrient, carbon and pollutant sequestration

13 Linking ecosystem characteristics to final ecosystem services for public policy Ecology Letters Volume 18, Issue 1, pages , 14 NOV 2014 DOI: /ele

14 Valuing Flood Reduction High Monthly Rainfall Amounts July 2005 = inches October 2006 = inches April 2009 = inches April 18, 2009 flood 5 deaths 350 homes flooded $3.5 million in damages

15 Wetland Permits and Flooding (Brody/TAMUG) 11,149 Section 404 permits in Texas coastal counties % affecting palustrine wetlands Limited protection (2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings) Permits in 100 year floodplain in USACE Galveston District : 32% - 41% annually Each permit on average increases flood damage by $212 per flood (urban permits are costliest)

16 Wetland Permits in Texas Coastal Counties

17 Insured Flood Losses (NWF: Higher Ground 1998) FEMA Database (Claudette 79 and Alicia 83) Harris County had 3,681 properties with repetitive flood loss 2.9 losses per property over 18 years $211.5 million paid out (no uninsured losses included) How much less if wetlands protected?

18 Cost Equivalence Scenario 1 Acre of wetland sold for $300,000 Converted to 6 2,000 sq ft Flood event with water in homes to 1 foot Average damage $52,000/house (FEMA) Property loss = $312,000 But the model for Houston does not exist

19 Wetland Protection Conundrum Urban wetlands retain storm water and provide other ecosystem services Urban land has high value for development Undeveloped floodplain land in Harris County is $40K to $1M per acre High land value connected to high wetland conversion activity Profit from wetland conversion results in costs from flood damage Profits are immediate, losses are long term, episodic

20 Demand for Land Wetland Loss WATERSHED NAME Developed Lands in 2010 as % of Total Land Area Wetlands lost to development since 1996 Avg Home Price (HAR) Real Estate Market Trinity River 3% 0% Liberty Cedar Bayou 12% 4% Baytown Dickinson Bayou 34% 13% Dickinson Armand-Taylor Bayou 64% 13% Sims Bayou 78% 21% , Buffalo Bayou 90% 22% , Brays Bayou 94% 52% , Lower Galveston Bay Watershed Avg 43% 13%

21 Economic Value of Palustrine Wetlands Economic cost of wetland conversion is cumulative and long term Market value and ES value are greatest in intensively developed area Flood avoidance can be improved by protection of ecosystem services Land development codes and protected areas have highest negative correlation to flood damage Land use decisions currently favor economics of wetland destruction and structural flood mitigation

22 HARCresearch.org HARC (härk), n. an independent research hub helping people thrive and nature flourish.

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