Information and Maps Help Users Explore the ‘Human Landscape’ of the Appalachians
Of all the interacting organisms that make up an ecosystem and determine the benefits it provides, people may be the most dynamic and influential. “Across Appalachian mountain landscapes, these benefits, or ecosystem services, depend not just on the types of ecosystems present, but also on how people use the benefits, and who calls these ecosystems home,” explains Lars Pomara, an Eastern Threat Center research ecologist who has collaborated with the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative on the Ecosystem Benefits and Risks project. The project website—launched earlier this year as a source of regional resources and tools for planners, managers, and interested publics—now includes ‘The Human Landscape,’ a special section that addresses the social dimensions of ecosystem services. Pages dedicated to Demographics and Social Values, Economics and Business, and Land Use synthesize information from a number of scientific studies and provide links to references for further reading. The companion Conservation Atlas allows for visual exploration of the issues through maps detailing regional incomes and economic activity, housing and development trends, population changes, and much more. Additional data and maps are forthcoming, says Pomara.