Cultural services are always the elusive piece to ecosystem-based management decisions because they are difficult to measure and communicate effectively. We have a couple of projects looking specifically about how such information can enhance decision-making.
We are working with Bessie Schwartz, a graduate student from Yale University, to explore how local and regional decision makers modify their natural resource management decisions after seeing data about where and why residents value natural resources. Decision makers are presented maps of high value places, the types of values associated with the places, and the types of people who value those places. They are then asked to participate in a simulation and follow-up about an upcoming decision they must make. Results will help us understand how to better measure and present cultural services to decision makers, and under what conditions cultural services data are appropriate in natural resource decision making. Data for the maps are from community mapping data collected on the Olympic Peninsula from 2010-2011.
In collaboration with the Nature Conservancy, Kelly Biedenweg, Trina Wellman, and graduate student Sophia Amberson are developing measures of cultural and economic relevance of salmon habitat restoration in the Quinault Indian Nation. These measures will be combined with ecological data to explore different scenario options for salmon habitat restoration. A structured decision making approach will elucidate the relative impact of different restoration scenarios on identified cultural, economic and ecological components - thus allowing for a potentially more holistic decision-making context.