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Deliberative multiattribute valuation of ecosystem services across a range of regional land-use, socioeconomic, and climate scenarios for the upper Merrimack River watershed, New Hampshire, USA

Mark E Borsuk, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University
Georgia Mavrommati, School for the Environment, University of Massachusetts Boston
Nihar R Samal, Office of the Agency Chief Engineer, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Shan Zuidema, Earth Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire; Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire
Wilfred Wollheim, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire; Earth Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire
Shannon H Rogers, Community and Economic Development, Cooperative Extension, University of New Hampshire
Alexandra M. Thorn, Tufts University
David Lutz, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College
Madeleine Mineau, Earth Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire
Curt Grimm, Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire
Cameron P Wake, Earth Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire; Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire
Richard Howarth, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College
Kevin Gardner, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of New Hampshire

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10806-240211

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Abstract

We evaluate the relative desirability of alternative futures for the upper Merrimack River watershed in New Hampshire, USA based on the value of ecosystem services at the end of the 21st century as gauged by its present-day inhabitants. This evaluation is accomplished by integrating land-use and socioeconomic scenarios, downscaled climate projections, biogeophysical simulation models, and the results of a citizen-stakeholder deliberative multicriteria evaluation. We find that although there are some trade-offs between alternative plausible futures, for the most part, it can be expected that future inhabitants of the watershed will be most satisfied if land-use planning in the intervening years prioritizes water supply and flood protection as well as maintenance of existing farmland and forest cover. With respect to climate change, it is expected that future watershed inhabitants will be more negatively affected by the projected loss of snow cover than the anticipated increase in hot summer days. More important than the specific results for the upper Merrimack River watershed, this integrative assessment demonstrates the complex yet ultimately informative potential to link stakeholder engagement with scenario generation, ecosystem models, and multiattribute evaluation for informing regional-scale planning and decision making.

Key words

climate impacts; integrated assessment modeling; nonmonetary valuation; sustainability

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087