Ecosystem services from mountain protected areas: Cascading effects from restoration of ecosystem processes.
Baron, Jill *,1, 2, Hicke, Jeff2, Christensen, Lindsey2, Stephenson, Nate1, Fagre, Dan1, Peterson, David3, 1 U S Geological Survey, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA2 Colorado State University, Fort Collins3 USDA Forest Service, Seattle
ABSTRACT- Ecosystem services provided by protected mountain regions include water supply, timber, C storage, soil retention, biodiversity and refugia for plant and animal species, economic value from many types of recreation and tourism, and spiritual well-being. National parks are among the most protected landscapes in mountains worldwide, but have nevertheless seen widespread resource degradation stemming from past land use and water management practices. Examples include fire suppression, dams and diversions of water resources, introduction of non-native species, extirpation of top mammalian predators, and in some regions outside the US, landscape manipulation for grazing and cultivation. Degradation may occur within a resource type, yet altered mountain processes may have effects at a much greater scale. By focusing on restoration of ecosystem processes, there are cascading benefits to entire regions. Restoration of natural flow regimes in headwaters restores wetlands, riparian areas, and habitats. Restoration of natural fire regimes in low- to mid-elevation ponderosa pine forests reduces occurrence of catastrophic burns that consume stand and soil C, and increase erosion. Reintroduction of wolves has reestablished a natural link in the terrestrial food chain, with indirect effects on vegetation growth as well as evidence of trophic cascades. Restoration of processes does not imply freedom from effects of climate change, air pollution, pests, or pathogens. Restoration may, however, provide resilience to processes that provide regional ecosystem services.
Key words: mountains, services, water, carbon
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