Posted: March 28, 2019

Assistant Professor Melissa M. Kreye, at Penn State University Extension, is launching a new program called Forest Benefits and Values, to help advocates of conservation connect with the latest research about the value of conserved lands. This program will work with landowners, private conservation organizations and state agencies to advance their understanding of the social and economic value of conserved ecosystems.

Recently, Dr. Kreye distributed a needs assessment survey to 360 non-governmental conservation organizations located around the Mid-Atlantic region. Over 100 organizations responded from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Most respondents represented private land trusts, but others included landowner associations and public-private initiatives. Most respondents (70%+) agreed that access to forest benefits and values information would improve their management decisions and make them better advocates for stakeholders. Important topics included the economic and social value of managing for clean water and air, biodiversity, and habitats. Wildlife topics included insects, fish, and reptiles, song bird species, and endangered wildlife. Human health and culture topics focused on the relationship between natural areas and human health, enhanced recreational opportunities, and educational and aesthetic benefits. In addition to this newsletter and other suggested extension articles/workshops, many supported the development of valuation calculators and research databases to help practitioners transfer economic values to their own conservation projects. Dr. Kreye is excited to address these needs and will be revealing new products to audiences over the next year.