Ecosystem Services Provided by Ruffner Mountain
Ecosystem services are the services provided by the natural functions of an ecosystem and include the cleaning of air and water. Ecosystems and forest communities can have significant positive impacts on urban areas by moderating weather extremes and their impacts, reducing heat island effects, reducing air and water pollutants, preventing erosion and storm water runoff, and providing areas of outdoor recreation for urban dwellers (Figure 1). The services provided by ecosystems not only have positive impacts on human health, they can also help reduce the financial burden put on urban areas.
Figure 1. Illustration of ecosystem services provided by urban trees.
In recent years, several computer models have been developed by the USDA Forest Service and collaborators to assist cities, land managers, and the general public in assessing the value and environmental benefits of their tree resources (www.itreetools.org). These models provide estimates not only of the physical benefits, but their economic value as well (Phillips et al. 2011). The purpose of this study was to use these models to assess the ecosystem services provided by Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve managed trees located in the Birmingham, AL metropolitan area.