Meet Nikola Smith Regional Partnership Coordinator and Conservation Finance Program Manager for the Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest. She develops ecosystem services-based partnerships to advance restoration on public and private forestlands and is grateful for the opportunity to participate in International Programs projects since 2010.
How do you define ecosystem services?
Answer: Ecosystems services are the life-sustaining benefits that nature provides. These include tangible goods such as food, water and forest products; processes such as climate regulation and water purification; cultural benefits including recreation opportunities and spiritual connections with nature; and fundamental supporting services such as nutrient cycling and soil formation.
Why are ecosystem services so important?
Answer: Ecosystem services are critical to supporting life. Highlighting these benefits and human dependence on natural systems communicates the importance of conservation and advances forest restoration goals.
How can the U.S. Forest Service help partners maintain the services that ecosystems provide?
Answer: USFS staff can help assess the ecosystem services provided by forests in quantitative and qualitative terms and design forest management approaches that sustain those services over time. These assessments can include benefits provided to stakeholders at multiple scales: from national sustainable development goals to local livelihood improvements. The USFS can also help implement pilot projects including payments for ecosystem services and watershed investment programs that leverage resources for restoration, conservation and community wellbeing.