All Things Considered: How Recreational Developments Effect Ecological and Social Ecosystem Services

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Abstract Summary

Ecosystem services are an emergent tool that provide a framework for decision making in managing public lands as a socio-ecological system. Broadly, ecosystem services are defined as the benefits that the environment provides to humans for free. Understanding how new developments on public lands impact the full set of market and non-market ecosystem services will allow for strategic growth that preserves ecosystem services such as biodiversity and carbon storage, while optimizing tourism revenue and benefitting local businesses. This study aims to identify how the land acquisition and development by Acadia National Park of 1400 acres of land on the Schoodic Peninsula has affected the portfolio of ecosystem services provided by Acadia National Park. We identified the most important and potentially impacted ecosystem services in this region as biodiversity, carbon storage, recreation and tourism, and local culture. Because baseline data before development data was unavailable, we designed survey methods to hindcast the valuation of ecosystem services before development to estimate change. We detected a compositional shift in the local bird community, but no discernable shift in vegetation biodiversity, a decrease in carbon storage with a potential for future increase with long-term conservation, and potential for increase in economic and recreational opportunity in a historically depressed area. The results of this study provide a knowledge base with which local stakeholders and public land managers in the region can make informed decisions to guide strategic investment in local infrastructure.



The Center for Undergraduate Research

The Margaret Chase Smith Foundation

The University of Maine Research Reinvestment Fund for project funding and the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program for administrative support.

The Schoodic Institute, especially Abe Miller Rushing, Emma Albee, and Megan Moshier for providing logistical support.

Acadia National Park and the National Parks Service for land access and generous project support

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Natural Sciences
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