Resources for Ecosystem Services and Markets in Tennessee

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Finding relevant data on ecosystem services and markets can be challenging. In some cases, there is too much and it’s esoteric; and in others, the information is scant. Below, is a list of resources, mostly specific to Tennessee but often applicable to all of Appalachia. Hopefully you will find it helpful, and please share any that have been missed and should be included.

To start off, an excellent resource for all ecosystem services and markets is Ecosystem Marketplace. It has become an authoritative source that offers tons of information.  However, much of its offerings are worldwide and it can take some effort to get to the region or data you are seeking. Hence, the list below narrows down the search to the Appalachians and Tennessee.

Watershed Services

Compensatory Mitigation and Forest Landowners along with  Pricing of Watershed Services for Compensatory Mitigation are an easy place to start. These post provide background on mitigation markets and watershed services, in addition to general pricing and valuation methods for landowners.

For the national database of aquatic resources see the National Wetlands Inventory. Not every isolated wetland is shown but the inventory is fairly complete. There are downloadable shapefiles, a web mapping portal, and other basic information containing a significant amount of data.

Corps_NashvilleSince the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is mostly responsible for aquatic resources, the district offices are good for local information. From here, you can also link to RIBITS, a program that tracks Mitigation Banks and In-Lieu Fee (ILF) projects. For mitigation information in a large part of Tennessee, see the Nashville District. For more regarding Tennessee, the website for the state’s In-Lieu Fee program is a very good resource and has some especially valuable links.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has responsibilities for aquatic resources, therefore it also needs to be researched. For the Southeast, see EPA Region 4. One emerging market handled by the EPA, to be sure and check out, is Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), as there could be significant opportunity with this market in the future for many areas.

Lastly, in Tennessee, those needing permits that affect aquatic resources will likely have to consult with and contact Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the state authoritative body.


Even though biodiversity and compensatory habitat markets aren’t on the level of watershed markets, they are growing. As populations and development increases, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is often exercising more authority under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), that deals with private lands. Beyond any ecosystem markets though, it is always important to compare critical habitats and species to project areas to ensure no harm is done. The USFWS, as the regulatory body, offers a good amount of information on their site.

Cumberland HCP official_logoBiodiversity markets are often resultant of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP). Though not required explicitly in an HCP, frequently mitigation for unavoidable impacts are allowed through management options. One HCP underway in Tennessee, the Cumberland HCP, has taken a comprehensive look at the biologically significant Cumberland Plateau, and is a good example of how an HCP can serve a rapidly growing community.

When dealing with species management, habitat is often the critical component. An excellent program at the University of Tennessee addressing rare native grassland communities, is The Center of Native Grasslands Management, and is worth a visit.

For an overview of species and some conservation efforts, check out the interactive storymap,  At-Risk Species and Conservation Efforts of the Endangered Species Act.

Carbon Sequestration

Forest carbon sequestration is developing into a robust ecosystem market for landowners. With AB32 in California tightening carbon regulations, markets have prospered. For anyone looking to enter the California forest carbon market understanding the Air Resources Board (ARB) Protocol is necessary. For forest carbon projects beyond the ARB’s, the Climate Action Reserve (CAR)  is an excellent resource on how forest projects are to work and be carried out.


While forest fiber is a traditional product, it provides benefits to humans and is therefore considered an ecosystem service. Research on forest products shouldn’t be too challenging, as the market is long established. Tennessee Division of Forestry (DOF) provides some good resources at their website and through their Forest Products Bulletin.

For regional southern forest products information, Timber Mart-South is a standard resource. Another excellent place to visit is Forest2Market. They are working hard and putting out great analysis on forest resources.

Overview and Background

Lastly, if you are searching for a little more information and history on ecosystem services and markets be sure to surf through the research at ecoReata, and read Introduction to Ecosystem Services. In addition, check out this presentation (included below) on how these markets can fit into more traditional management schemes. Be sure to reach out or comment below, if good resources have been missed so the list can be updated for everyone’s benefit.

Just the links – complete list:


About Stuart Hale

Stuart is a forest and natural resource professional focused on ecosystem services, GIS/data management, and sustainable forestry. Find him on Twitter.

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