Valuing the Ecosystem Services of Southern Maine Watersheds

Along the coast of southern Maine, the need to conserve natural buffers in order to protect rivers and wetlands has become a focal point for tensions between development and conservation interests. In this rapidly developing landscape, decision-makers often feel they must choose development over conservation or restoration to support local economies. While there is scientific evidence that underscores the value of protecting natural buffers around sensitive water bodies, local decision-makers need additional place-based, economic information about the ecosystem services that these lands provide and the range of tradeoffs that are implied in related land use decisions.

A team led by the Wells Reserve addressed this need by working with local, state, and federal stakeholders to better understand, measure, and communicate how southern Mainers value natural buffers and the tradeoffs they are willing to make to protect these critical resources for the future.