Evaluating Ecosystem Services

NEW RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS THE VALUE OF CALIFORNIA’S WORKING LANDSCAPES and the return on investment of rangeland trust conservation easements

We are thrilled to announce the long-awaited release of our ecosystem services research showing the long-term benefits of land conservation. Conducted by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, this groundbreaking research could transform the way we look at working landscapes in the Golden State.

What We Learned

Researchers examined over 300,000 acres of working landscapes conserved by the California Rangeland Trust and found that these lands provide roughly $1 billion in environmental benefits annually, including habitat, climate regulation, food, and watersheds. The study also found that conservation easements return $3.47 for every dollar invested.

Image of tree near river

Why We Did This

Since 1984, over 1.4 million acres of agricultural land in California has been converted to other uses, with 78% of those lands lost to urban development.

In the past, the benefits of California’s rangeland—food, wildlife habitat, clean air and water, wildfire protection, vibrant communities, and more—have been difficult to quantify.

Because clear valuation is essential when making policy decisions, UC Berkeley scientists set out to identify specific values for the ecosystem services provided by rangelands conserved by the Rangeland Trust.

Understanding What We Gain from rangeland

California’s working landscapes contain intact plant and wildlife communities that provide ecosystem services—goods and services produced in nature. These include provisioning services, regulating services, habitat services, and cultural services. 

We worked with UC Berkeley researchers to explore the value of ecosystem services provided by 56 conserved ranches and to calculate the return on our environmental investment. Transparent, informed research is at the heart of our mission at the Rangeland Trust. By communicating with our readers, our ranchers, and our supporters the importance of ranching and rangeland, we aspire to change the way California values working landscapes.

Understanding What We Gain from Rangeland

California’s working landscapes contain intact plant and wildlife communities that provide ecosystem services—goods and services produced in nature. These include provisioning services, regulating services, habitat services, and cultural services. 

We worked with UC Berkeley researchers to explore the economics of rangeland protection and to calculate the return on our environmental investment. Transparent, informed research is at the heart of our mission at the Rangeland Trust. By communicating with our readers, our ranchers, and our supporters the importance of ranching and rangeland, we aspire to change the way California values working landscapes.

The findings

56 of the ranches conserved by the California Rangeland Trust – encompassing 306,781 acres – were included in the study. Researchers discovered:

  • These ranches provide between $900 million and $1.44 billion in ecosystem services annually.
  • Rangeland Trust conservation easements return between $3.43 and $3.47 for every dollar invested when considering the loss of all ecosystem services under current zoning restrictions.
  • Returns rise to between $103.28 and $166.76 for every dollar invested when considering the loss of all ecosystem services under maximum potential future zoning.

Your return on investment

Our work would not be possible without our supporters. When you help protect California rangelands, you are making an investment in the future. This study enables us to better understand the return on your investment. Because of you, the Golden State has a greener tomorrow and a brighter future.
Image of blue pond at Bloom Ranch

OUR PARTNERS

The Rangeland Trust was proud to partner with the following organizations in this study.

GET YOUR FREE COPY OF THE ECOSYSTEMS SERVICES STUDY

Download the Fact Sheet

Download the Executive Summary

Enter your email address to receive a free copy of the Ecosystem Services Study!

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