SolVES 2.1 Now Available! (ArcGIS 10-compatible)
A GIS Application for Assessing, Mapping, and Quantifying the Social Values of Ecosystem Services
Ecosystem services can be defined in various ways; simply put, they are the benefits provided by nature, which contribute to human well-being. These benefits can range from tangible products such as food and fresh water to cultural services such as recreation and aesthetics. As the use of these benefits continues to increase, additional pressures are placed on the natural ecosystems providing them. This makes it all the more important when assessing possible tradeoffs among ecosystem services to consider the human attitudes and preferences that express underlying social values associated with their benefits. While some of these values can be accounted for through economic markets, other values can be more difficult to quantify, and attaching dollar amounts to them may not be very useful in all cases. Regardless of the processes or units used for quantifying such values, the ability to map them and relate them to the ecosystem services to which they are attributed is necessary for effective assessments.
In response to the need for incorporating quantified and spatially explicit measures of social values into ecosystem services assessments, the Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center (GECSC), in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Clement at the University of Wyoming, developed a geographic information system (GIS) application, Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES). SolVES is designed to assess, map, and quantify the perceived social values of ecosystem services, such as aesthetics and recreation. These nonmonetary values, often corresponding to cultural ecosystem services, can be analyzed for various stakeholder groups as distinguished by their attitudes and preferences regarding public uses, such as motorized recreation or logging. SolVES derives a quantitative, 10-point, social-values metric, the Value Index, from a combination of spatial and nonspatial responses to public value and preference surveys and calculates metrics characterizing the underlying environment, such as average distance to water and dominant landcover.
With version 2.x (SolVES 2.0 and 2.1), GECSC has improved and extended the functionality of SolVES, most notably via integrating the Maxent maximum entropy modeling software to generate more complete social-value maps and to produce robust models describing the relationship between social value intensity and explanatory environmental variables. The addition of Maxent more readily permits the transfer of social-value models to similar areas where primary survey data are not available. SolVES 2.x also introduces the flexibility for users to define their own social value typologies and public uses, model any number and type of environmental variables, and modify the spatial resolution of analysis. With these enhancements, SolVES 2.x provides an improved public-domain tool for decision-makers and researchers to evaluate the social value of ecosystems and to facilitate discussions among diverse stakeholders regarding the tradeoffs among different management options in a variety of physical and social contexts, ranging from forest and rangeland to coastal and marine.
Getting Started with SolVES 2.1
Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
INFORMATION COLLECTION DISCLAIMER: SolVES is a tool for mapping and analyzing social survey response data. It is not a tool designed for the collection of survey data, nor is any survey attached to SolVES. Any survey or survey response data referred to in the SolVES documentation, sample data, or publications is the work and responsibility of the persons or groups who developed and conducted that survey. Please note that before a Federal agency may collect information or sponsor a collection of information, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requires approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Any Federal agency or sponsored program interested in developing and conducting a survey for use with SolVES is wholly responsible for submitting an Information Collection Request (ICR) to OMB.