Environmental managers are faced with the wise management, sustainability, and stewardship of their land for natural resource values. This task requires the integration of ecological evaluation with economics. Using the Department of Energy (DOE) as a case study, we examine the why, who, what, where, when, and how questions about assessment and natural resource protection of buffer lands. We suggest that managers evaluate natural resources for a variety of reasons that revolve around land use, remediation/restoration, protection of natural environments, and natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). While DOE is the manager of its lands, and thus its natural resources, a range of natural resource trustees and public officials have co-responsibility. We distinguish four types of natural resource evaluations: (1) the resources themselves (to the ecosystem), (2) the value of specific resources to people (e.g. hunting/fishing/bird-watching/herbal medicines), (3) the value of ecological resources to services for communities (e.g. clean air/water), and (4) the value of the intact ecosystems (e.g. forests or estuaries). Resource evaluations should occur initially to provide information about the status of those resources, and continued evaluation is required to provide trends data. Additional natural resource evaluation is required before, during and immediately following changes in land use, and remediation or restoration. Afterwards, additional monitoring and evaluations are required to evaluate the effects of the land use change or the efficacy of remediation/restoration. There are a wide range of economic methods available to evaluate natural resources, but the methods chosen depend upon the nature of the resource being evaluated, the purpose of the evaluation, and the needs of the agencies, natural resource trustees, public officials, and the public. We discuss the uses, and the advantages and disadvantages of different evaluation methods for natural resources.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Science(all)
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Integrating economics
- Natural resource assessment
- Resource trustees