Groundbreaking Ecosystem Services Study Released

New Research from California Rangeland Trust and UC Berkeley Finds Protected Rangeland Provides $1 Billion in Ecosystem Services Annually

We are thrilled to announce the release of new ecosystem services research showing the long-term benefits of land conservation. The study has found that working lands conserved by the Rangeland Trust provides between $900 million and $1.44 billion in environmental benefits annually, and Rangeland Trust conservation easements return between $3.43 and $3.47 for every dollar invested.

Before now, the benefits of rangeland conserved by the Rangeland Trust had not been quantified. We partnered with UC Berkeley scientists to understand the environmental, economic, and social benefits of the rangeland we have under easement. These groundbreaking findings will help guide a new generation of environmental policy decisions.

“This study demonstrates the importance of caring for and serving California’s land, so that it can serve our communities in return,” says California Rangeland Trust CEO Michael Delbar. “Conserving the state’s open spaces and rangelands isn’t just about ranching. It’s about investing in environmental services that will benefit Californians now and into the future.”

Since 1984, over 1.4 million acres of land in California have been converted from agricultural to other uses. 78% of that land has been lost to urban development. The Ecosystems Services Study looked at 306,781 acres of the Rangeland Trust’s conservation portfolio in order to better understand what would have been lost if these working landscapes had vanished.

Researchers found that ranches conserved by the Rangeland Trust produce the following ecosystem service values every year:

  • $236 million in food
  • $13.9 million in water
  • $250.6 million in biodiversity maintenance
  • $96.5 in habitat lifecycle production
  • $28.5 million in recreational opportunities

“The data is clear – conserving rangeland is a smart investment as Californians look for ways to protect our environment,” says Delbar.

Funded by the Resources Legacy Fund and an anonymous donor, the Ecosystems Services Study has the potential to change the way Californians see their state’s working landscapes. Our goal is to use this research to increase future allocations of public and private funding for rangeland conservation, to communicate the value of this work, and to help guide future conservation activity.

Leading-edge research into the value of rangeland, and communicating this message with diverse audiences, is at the heart of our mission. Our work in conservation, research, and education would not be possible without you. When you join us in protecting California rangelands, you are investing in the future. This study allows us to better understand the return on your investment. Thank you for your partnership and support. Because of you, California has a safer and greener future.

To learn more about these incredible findings or to download the report, please visit our Ecosystems Services Study page!

For more information or media inquiries, please contact Alyssa Rolen at arolen@rangelandtrust.org or call 916-444-2026.