U.S. EPA’s EnviroAtlas provides a collection of interactive tools and resources for exploring ecosystem goods and services. The purpose of EnviroAtlas is to provide better access to consistently derived ecosystems and socio-economic data to facilitate decision-making while also providing data for research and education. EnviroAtlas tools and resources are well-suited for educational use, as they encourage systems thinking, cover a broad range of topics, are freely available, and do not require specialized software to use. To use EnviroAtlas only requires a computer and an internet connection, making it a useful tool for community planning, education, and decision-making at multiple scales.
To help users understand how EnviroAtlas resources may be used in different contexts, we provide example use cases. These use cases highlight a real-world issue which EnviroAtlas data, in conjunction with other available data or resources, may be used to address. Here we present three use cases that approach incorporating ecosystem services in decision-making in different decision contexts: 1) to minimize the negative impacts of excessive summer heat due to urbanization in Portland, Oregon 2) to explore selecting a pilot route for a community greenway, and 3) to reduce nutrient loading through a regional manure transport program.
EnviroAtlas use cases provide step-by-step approaches for using maps and data to address real-world issues, allowing students and practitioners alike to both understand potential data that can be used in decision processes and providing the necessary steps for replication. We have found that the hands-on structure makes the concept of ecosystem services easily approachable for high school and college students. In some situations, the use cases have prompted direct applications of the data: for example, after completing the greenway case activity, students at CSU Fresno are working to explore greenway routes for the City of Fresno. In this way, the use cases have facilitated technology transfer and have opened opportunities for further collaboration with college campuses and local governments.
The use cases have been accessed from the EnviroAtlas website over two hundred times, highlighting user interest in such examples. Given their broad application for both decision-making and as an educational tool, we are developing more use cases on a range of topics, including implementing ecosystem markets and community solar potential. This abstract has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Agency.