With limited resources to improve the provision of multiple ecosystem services, conservation programs often rely on spatial tools to identify the best locations for restoration or protection. However, most programs still base prioritization on biophysical metrics that do not fully predict where interventions will deliver the greatest benefits to people. We argue that prioritization metrics need to consider not only biophysical data on the supply of ecosystem services but also socioeconomic data that highlight the value of those services. We use the example of prioritizing best management practices (BMPs) in an agricultural watershed in the US state of Iowa to evaluate how considering the location and preferences of beneficiaries affects the spatial prioritization of investments. We show that adopting metrics that incorporate endpoints of interest and value to people changes the spatial prioritization of BMPs, especially for air quality, lake recreation, and drinking water. Our work demonstrates how publicly available biophysical and social data can be integrated into spatial ecosystem services metrics to enhance the delivered benefits of conservation activities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by grant F14AP00712 from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative to BLK. Additional funding was provided by The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund in collaboration with The Natural Capital Project. Special thanks to V Dang for assistance with references and formatting.
© The Ecological Society of America