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Ecosystem Services

As part of our 2020 Sustainability Roadmap, we committed to recognizing the ecosystem services provided by our timberlands. To help us and our stakeholders understand the full range of values our timberlands offer, we developed a plan to measure and report against a comprehensive set of 18 ecosystem services our forests provide. We adopted the terminology used by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which separates ecosystem services into four categories: provisioning services, regulating services, supporting services and cultural services. Each of these describes different types of benefits nature provides to people.

We are measuring these services measured and reporting on them annually, beginning this year. This will allow us to gain valuable insight into the benefits provided by our lands. Some of these services already produce products and services with market value; some may provide opportunities for additional revenue or marketing potential; and some, although not measurable in dollars, will illustrate the range of values that accompany our managed forests. In all three cases, collecting and tracking this information is helpful for us to translate these benefits into value for our customers, communities and other interested stakeholders.

Provisioning

These services, often described as ecosystem goods, represent the tangible benefits provided by an ecosystem. Many of these services are relatively easy to quantify because they have a market value.

Ecosystem Service Scale Reporting Unit 2012 Value
Fiber - roundwood harvested All Weyerhaeuser timberlands Volume (thousands m3) 19,421
Food - mushrooms/berries US West # of acres covered by permits 1,024,498
Greenery US West # of acres covered by permits 778,605
Tons sold for noble fir boughs 499
Livestock - grazing Uruguay, Canada, and West acres of grazing leases 365,522
Honey production Uruguay and US West # bee box (hive) leases 19,543
Biochemical - wood extractives US South and Uruguay # Tons of soap (potential) based on extractive supply 1,017,570
# Gallons of turpentine (potential) based on extractives supply 126,240
# Lbs harvested of turpentine (traditional method) 129,630
Fur production Canada # permits 300
Genetic resources (tree improvement) All Weyerhaeuser timberlands # improved seedlings planted 52,888,570

Regulating

These services represent the ecosystem processes that are needed to maintain human health and ecosystem infrastructure. This category is often more difficult to quantify because the processes are intangible and are mostly considered public goods.

Ecosystem Service Scale Reporting Unit 2012 Value
Water regulation (quantity and quality) All Weyerhaeuser timberlands Percent harvested area planted within 2 yrs; 99%
Riparian buffer/perennial stream length (m2/m)*
*Based on current public stream layer datasets.
160
Fire resistance All Weyerhaeuser timberlands Acres burned (not including prescribed burns) 5,430

Supporting

These services enable the other categories to work, and they include such things as soil formation, nutrient cycling, primary production and water cycling. Habitat provision can also be categorized under supporting services because habitat supports biodiversity, which is an indicator of the functionality of an ecosystem and the other ecosystem services.2 A supporting service can also be described as an ecosystem process.3

Ecosystem Service Scale Reporting Unit 2012 Value
Habitat - protected US and Uruguay Acres, including biotopes, riparian buffers, and wetland mitigation banks 891,446
Canada 4,954,400
Habitat - managed US and Canada Acres of early-successional habitat 2,725,920
Acres of mid-successional habitat 10,218,300
Formal Habitat Management Agreements US and Canada Acres 3,515,250
Habitat - fish habitat/aquatics US West # upgraded stream crossings/drainage projects (cumulative) 1,472
Soil productivity All Weyerhaeuser timberlands Information from soil productivity research (updated annually) See link

Cultural

This category of ecosystem services is intended to convey intangible values people derive from ecosystems.

Ecosystem Service Scale Reporting Unit 2012 Value
Hunting US South # people in hunt clubs 56,852
US West # of permits in game management units 61,174
Special sites All Weyerhaeuser timberlands # special sites 1,314
Education (school tours/groups) US and Uruguay # of visitors 162,110

Additional Services

We identified some services that do not lend themselves to annual data collection and reporting. These “snapshot” services are excluded from the annual data collection because we have only qualitative information, the reporting unit is not sufficiently precise, or the service has been recently discontinued. Nevertheless, these services are important reflections of the value provided by our timberlands, and will lend themselves to fuller description in the future, if not annual tracking.

These additional services include the following:

  • Oxygen production
  • Natural Ppollination
  • Genetic resources/germplasm preservation
  • Biochemical
  • Water purification
  • Pest resistance
  • Cultural- sense of place (grazing)
  • Cultural- sense of place (first nation hunting grounds)

References

  1. Called for in 2000 by the UN Secretary General in partnership with UN agencies, conventions, business, non-governmental organization with a multi-stakeholder board of directions, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment represents the largest assessment of the health of the Earth’s ecosystems to date. It was published in 2005 and was prepared by 1360 experts from 95 countries.
  2. Some authors categorize biodiversity as an element of biophysical supply rather than an ecosystem service. See Tallis, Heather and Stephen Polasky. 2009. Mapping and Valuing Ecosystem Services as an Approach for Conservation and Natural-Resource Management. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1162: 265–283.
  3. Brown, Thomas C., John C. Bergstrom and John B. Loomis. 2007. Defining, Valuing, and Providing Ecosystem Goods and Services. Natural Resources Journal 47: 229-376.

Last updated July 3, 2013