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Sustaining Ecosystem Services From Private Lands in California: The Role of the Landowner

The term “ecosystem services” was coined to express the value of natural systems to human wellbeing— a straightforward definition is “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems.”  Achieving sustainability and maintaining flows of ecosystem services in California requires attention to private lands and their unique management constraints and opportunities. Forty percent, 13 million ha, of California’s forests and rangelands are privately owned.

This paper describes the changing landownership patterns and what it means for efforts to increase and sustain ecosystem service production from private lands.  Key points:

• California landownerships are changing—becoming smaller and more amenity-driven, with important implications for ecosystem service production.

• Residence on the property, larger property size, source of income from the land, having a longterm outlook, and using an advisory service are associated with landowner management for ecosystem services for the owner and for society.

• Advisory services like Cooperative Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as private consultants and professional organizations, have an important role in the future of ecosystem service production.

141-ferranto-huntsinger-kelly-ecosystem-services-2014  By Shasta Ferranto, Lynn Huntsinger, and Maggi Kelly