Presentation Title

Portland’s Forest Park is economically undervalued therefore its management underfunded: A call for public private partnerships to conserve forest function and protect human health

Abstract

Over 5,100 acres of forested land exists within the city boundaries of Portland, one of the largest urban forests in the US. Highly disturbed from past logging, fires and urban encroachment, Forest Park is a novel ecosystem without antecedent or reference. Pressures from recreational demands, encroaching development, invasions of non-native species and unpredictable impacts from rising temperatures and extreme rain events pose additional threats to the future health of this forest system. Like many urban forests, funding for ongoing management and restoration of this land is often deprioritized in municipal budgets. Lack of well-functioning markets for non-use ecosystem services, lack of credible values, lack of capitalization of restoration and management expenses, and lack of revenue from public parks are chronic issues. Forest Park exists on Portland’s balance sheets as an expense – not a high value asset. A significant body of emerging research documents the health benefits derived from urban parks based on dose and proximity. With the emergence of value-based health care, a new socio-economic framework for valuing urban natural areas is needed. Presented is a Nature-Benefit Pathway model for Forest Park and other urban natural areas which associates the value of forest features and functions to health outcomes. Additionally, this is a call to Portland area businesses and municipal governments to partner in the design of a sustainable economic funding model for the conservation and active management of Forest Park and other natural areas in Portland to protect human health.

Subjects

Environmental policy, Economics, Habitat restoration

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Portland’s Forest Park is economically undervalued therefore its management underfunded: A call for public private partnerships to conserve forest function and protect human health

Over 5,100 acres of forested land exists within the city boundaries of Portland, one of the largest urban forests in the US. Highly disturbed from past logging, fires and urban encroachment, Forest Park is a novel ecosystem without antecedent or reference. Pressures from recreational demands, encroaching development, invasions of non-native species and unpredictable impacts from rising temperatures and extreme rain events pose additional threats to the future health of this forest system. Like many urban forests, funding for ongoing management and restoration of this land is often deprioritized in municipal budgets. Lack of well-functioning markets for non-use ecosystem services, lack of credible values, lack of capitalization of restoration and management expenses, and lack of revenue from public parks are chronic issues. Forest Park exists on Portland’s balance sheets as an expense – not a high value asset. A significant body of emerging research documents the health benefits derived from urban parks based on dose and proximity. With the emergence of value-based health care, a new socio-economic framework for valuing urban natural areas is needed. Presented is a Nature-Benefit Pathway model for Forest Park and other urban natural areas which associates the value of forest features and functions to health outcomes. Additionally, this is a call to Portland area businesses and municipal governments to partner in the design of a sustainable economic funding model for the conservation and active management of Forest Park and other natural areas in Portland to protect human health.