Influence of ecosystem service quantification on stakeholder preferences around restoration
If we measure the economic value of delta restoration, community members will change their preferences, enabling delta restoration.
This postulates has three elements: 1) that stakeholders are motivated by economic value, and 2) that economic valuation methods provide accurate description of project benefits.
We have no broadly recognized measurement or documentation of specific non-ecological benefits of delta restoration. Both the maintenance of status quo tidal defenses and drainage, and restoration alternatives, have social and economic costs and benefits, in addition to ecological effects. How stakeholder groups value different delta conditions is likely to vary. The standards of evidence necessary to influence stakeholder opinion may also vary, and need to be considered. Valuation methods should build from the stated interests and values of diverse stakeholders so that findings can be shared among stakeholders. Development of projects that use innovative techniques to demonstrate diverse values may increase community willingness to participate in restoration.
If we demonstrate flood hazard mitigation as a product of restoration, community members will change their preferences and enable delta restoration
We lack broadly accepted methods for evaluating the effect of projects on flood hazards, or whether innovative restoration design can mitigate flood impacts. Restoration of tidal prism can alter water levels and flow pathways through the delta, potentially increasing or decreasing the risk that existing flood defenses will fail. Sea level rise and climate change effects are anticipated to reduce the effectiveness or increase the costs of flood defenses. Innovative methods of restoration may be able to reduce flood hazards, potentially leveraging funding sources appropriated for flood management. In the absence of planning or evaluation, restoration may be perceived as increasing flood risk, potentially disabling restoration efforts. Evaluation should consider the condition, continuity, and the current and future maintenance costs of existing flood defenses in comparing restoration/flood tradeoffs, and result in specific increased project opportunities.
Local community members will increase their support for delta restoration if they are more educated about and involved in delta restoration.
We have limited examples of how local and regional stakeholders perceive delta restoration, and how project related engagement may affect those perceptions. While scientists working on the recovery of historical ecosystem services are focused on ecosystem dynamics, local, regional, and national observers, and stakeholders of restoration may have an entirely different set of assumptions about the purposes and value of restoration. How can monitoring and evaluation affect those assumptions? Each restoration project has the potential if perceived as a success or a failure, to either enable or disable further restoration. Communication and engagement efforts may affect stakeholder perception, but there have been limited efforts to evaluate how different approaches to stakeholder engagement affect stakeholder perceptions or future behavior.
By developing a transparent approach to evaluating the effects of delta restoration on agricultural drainage, local community members will change their preferences and enbale restoration efforts.
We lack broadly accepted and efficient methods for evaluating and monitoring the effects of delta restoration on adjacent agricultural field drainage. Restoration actions using public funds are required under state and federal law to make informed decisions based on an understanding of the effects of restoration actions on adjacent land uses. The delta ecosystem currently provides drainage channels for removing water from agriculturally developed lands. Changes in flow pathways and sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. routing may affect the effectiveness of drainage infrastructure, or alter groundwater flow patterns. Even where restoration has no impact on drainage systems, perception of impact may disable future restoration efforts.
Communities accept delta restoration if we can maintain access involving trails on dike and bridges over breaches.
Project costs are dramatically increased through the inclusion of public access features. These costs are commonly borne by restoration funds. Thus local communities derive perceived value from restoration project by driving up costs that they are not willing to bear. Remnant dike infrastructure may affect ecosystem processes, and create potential future maintenance costs. The value of public access features relative to their cost, is poorly documented either before or after construction, and these features are seen as a necessarily trade-off to secure public support.
Delta Strategy Analysis
The uncertainties in how this topic affects delta restoration has resulted in its inclusion in the ESRP River Delta Adaptive Management Strategy. This three criteria analysis should build off the analysis above, and supports development of learning projects.