With the goal of tracking important trends that affect their citizens, hundreds of communities as well as regions, states and nations have created quality of life indicators. Because individual efforts have may have broad or a specific forcus, not all include environmental indicators in their set of quality of life indicators. This work evalutes the use of environmental indicators in 34 communities (as used here: county-level or smaller spacial units) which used environmental indicators in their quality of life projects.
Communities often look to other communities in developing their quality of life projects. It is not surprising that communities often use the same environmental indicators. However, the particular concerns of communities and the community setting (e.g. mountainous or ocean-neighboring) are often expressed in the choice of environmental indicators. The role of lands outside of communities (e.g. National Forests and National Parks) certainly impact the quality of life within a community but the use of indicators associated with outside-community lands are lacking in community quality of life studies. Through improved understanding of ecosystem services provided by neighboring areas there is hope that communities will include those lands in defining their quality of life and become more interested in activities that affect those lands and the services that they provide.