Monday, April 25, 2022

Stroud Water Research Center, Academy Of Natural Sciences, Shippensburg University: Quantifying The Value Of Forest Protection For Clean Water, Impact Of Remote Working

New research from Open Space Institute and its Delaware River Watershed Initiative partners aims to quantify just how much forest protection is needed to ensure clean water.

It’s well known that forests filter the water that nourishes our families, supports businesses, and sustains our communities. 

Now, new research from the Open Space Institute (OSI) and its partners through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative aims to quantify just how much forest protection is needed to ensure clean water.

Thanks to an investment by the William Penn Foundation, OSI and its partners have been able to look back at the impact from past land protection. 

The research offers three novel approaches to gauge the benefits of forest protection and demonstrates the critical role forests play in filtering pollutants and maintaining high-quality streams for drinking water, recreation, and wildlife. 

The three-year study led by OSI is part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, a four-state collaborative funded by William Penn Foundation to restore and protect the watershed that serves as the source of drinking water for 15 million people, including residents of New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia, and Wilmington.

Working with the Initiative’s science leads — Stroud Water Research Center, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and Shippensburg University — OSI assessed the water quality impact of 45 land protection projects funded through its Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, spanning nearly 20,000 acres clustered across 21 priority sub-watersheds.

The research combines complementary scientific approaches, computer modeling, and stream sampling; together, these approaches offer perspective on how hypothetical scenarios change water quality, and actual data on where water quality begins to decline in specific forested headwaters.

The success of this approach lies in capturing a fuller story about the value of land protection.

 It builds upon OSI’s 2019 research, which shows that programs that fund land protection for water quality either skip evaluation altogether or use “avoided development” models — i.e., what would have happened had the land not been conserved — as the primary measure of success.

However, the issue with this approach is that most development models assume future development will follow existing patterns – creating a built-in bias that intact headwaters are at low risk of development, and therefore lower priority for investments in land protection. 

However, as the recent spike in demand for homes in rural markets spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and growing acceptance of remote work underscores, this isn’t always the case.

Click Here to continue reading.

(Reprinted from the Open Space Institute website.)

[Posted: April 25, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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