We provide a more comprehensive methodology for the conservation module, click here to view or download the Conservation Analytic Technical Guide. 

NOTE - The Conservation Module is available for projects in California only. 

General Conservation

  • Acreage Increase by Land Cover Type - Net increase in acreage of Developed, Natural, or Agricultural Land Cover (acres)
  • Acreage Decrease by Land Cover Type - Net decrease in acreage of Developed, Natural, or Agricultural Land Cover (acres)

The General Conservation metrics give you a high-level understanding of the land cover changes on your project's Base Canvas or Painted Canvas.

Carbon Sequestration

  • Net Change in Carbon Stock - Net change in above-ground live carbon stock and soil carbon stock (metric tons)
  • Change in Carbon Stock Measured as Equivalent Passenger Vehicles Driven per Year (passenger vehicles/year)
  • Total Carbon Stock - Total Above-Ground Live Carbon and Soil Carbon Stock (metric tons)

The terrestrial carbon storage model is focused on measurement of the stock change of carbon (C) in natural vegetation and soil. This change is associated with various land use changes and land management actions in the landscape. The model analyzes the impact of land use change on above-ground carbon stock in grassland, shrubland, forested ecosystems, and below-ground stock in all environments. 

Above-ground carbon includes carbon stocks in live vegetation; soil carbon includes carbon stocks that are up to 30 cm below the surface of the soil. 

Agriculture

  • Net Change in Agricultural Production Value - Change in Production Value (dollars)
  • Net Change in Agricultural Acreage - Change in agricultural acreage (acres)
  • Total Agricultural Acreage - Total agricultural acreage per agricultural class (acres)
  • Increase in Agricultural Production Value - Increase in Agricultural Production Value (dollars)
  • Decrease in Agricultural Production Value - Decrease in agricultural production value (dollars)
  • Increase in Acres by Agricultural Class - Increase in agricultural acreage (acres)
  • Decrease in Acres by Agricultural Class- Decrease in agricultural acreage (acres)

The Agriculture Theme is focused on the conversion of land to and from agricultural and non-agricultural uses. Broadly, metrics are classified into three groups—agricultural production, agricultural acreage and agricultural capacity. 

  • Agricultural production represents how the above changes affect the monetary value of crop production in the region studied. 
  • Agricultural acreage calculates the change in acreage of agricultural land by agricultural type through expansion of agricultural land on urban or natural lands, and consumption of agricultural land by urban lands.
  • Agricultural capacity calculates the impact of development in areas considered important for agriculture. 

When agricultural lands expand into natural lands, local agricultural production may increase. On the other hand, the expansion of urban lands into agricultural lands can reduce agricultural production. Production value also changes when agricultural lands are converted from one agricultural type to another.

Water Supply and Quality Impacts

  • Net Change in Land Use within Drinking Water Source Watersheds - Net change in Natural, Agricultural, and Urban acreage within drinking water source watersheds (acres)
  • Net Change in Active River Areas - Net change in Natural, Agricultural, and Urban acreage in active river areas (acres)
  • Total Areas of Catchments (subwatersheds) by Watershed Integrity Class - Watershed Integrity classes are Natural (>70% is natural), Degraded (<70% Natural), or Degraded, with an Important Riparian Buffer (riparian buffer >70% natural) (acres)
  • Net Change in Total (Ag+Urban) Water Demand - Net Change in total (Ag+Urban) water demand (acre-foot)
  • Net Change in Urban Water Demand - Net change in urban water demand (acre-foot)
  • Net Change in Agricultural Water Demand - Net change in agricultural water demand (acre-foot)
  • Increase in Agricultural Water Use - Increase in agricultural water use (acre-foot)
  • Total (Ag+Urban) Water Demand - Total (Ag+Urban) Water Demand (acre-foot)
  • Total Urban Water Demand - Total urban water demand (acre-foot) 
  • Total Agricultural Water Demand - Total Agricultural water demand (acre-foot)

The water theme is based on impacts related to four aquatic subthemes: Watershed Integrity, Water Demand (Agricultural and Urban), Groundwater Recharge Potential, and Priority Resource Areas.

Watershed Integrity Watershed integrity has been used by several agencies as an indicator of the “health” of water-related ecosystem processes, functions, and services. Natural land cover within the catchment supports water quality by decreasing the potential for non-point source pollution from runoff. Natural lands proximal to riparian areas are important for filtering out sediment, nitrogen, phosphorous, and other pollutants. The natural land cover in riparian buffers supports natural flow, sediment, and water temperature regimes, and it maintains natural levels of nutrient and organic matter input to streams. (US EPA 2013)

Water Demand (Agricultural and Urban) Land cover changes and associated land use can impact agricultural water demand. When agricultural lands expand into natural lands, agricultural water demand in that area may increase. Alternatively, urban lands expanding into agricultural lands can reduce agricultural water demand and increase urban water demand for the region. Demand can also change when lands are converted from one agricultural type to another.

Groundwater Recharge Potential Land cover changes will also impact groundwater recharge potential. When natural, agricultural or developed open space land cover changes to low-, medium-, or high-density developed open land space cover, the groundwater recharge potential in that area will be reduced. Alternatively, when low-, medium-, or high-density developments are returned to natural, agricultural, or developed open space, recharge potential will be restored. The model does not specifically quantify the relationship between groundwater recharge, actual evapotranspiration (AET), and runoff; nor does it quantify the shift in that relationship that was caused by changes in land use and land management.

Priority Resource Areas Here, land cover change in acreage in water resource priority areas (such as Wetlands, Floodplains, Active River Area, and Drinking Water Source Watersheds) is reported.

Terrestrial Habitat Conservation

  • Acres of Amphibian Habitat Degraded and/or Improved - Area of amphibian habitat degraded and/or improved (acres)
  • Acres of Bird Habitat Degraded and/or Improved - Area of avian habitat degraded and/or improved (acres)
  • Acres of Mammal Habitat Degraded and/or Improved - Area of mammalian habitat degraded and/or improved (acres)
  • Acres of Reptile Habitat Degraded and/or Improved - Area of reptilian habitat degraded and/or improved (acres)
  • Acres of Threatened/Endangered Species Habitat Degraded and/or Improved - Habitat degraded and/or improved for threatened/endangered species (acres)
  • Acres of Habitat for Species (Except Birds) Vulnerable to Climate Change Degraded and/or Improved - Habitat degraded and/or improved for species (except birds) vulnerable to climate change (acres)
  • Acres of Habitat for Birds Vulnerable to Climate Change Degraded and/or Improved - Habitat degraded and/or improved for birds vulnerable to climate change (acres)
  • Acres of Habitat for Individual Threatened and Endangered Species Degraded - Habitat degraded for threatened and endangered species (acres)
  • Acres of Habitat for Individual Threatened and Endangered Species Improved - Area improved for Threatened and Endangered Species.

The terrestrial habitat models integrate habitat conservation values into a decision-making framework to reveal the impact and benefits of land use change decisions on habitats and associated biodiversity.

Accounting for the impact on terrestrial habitats allows for better assessments of biodiversity and habitat tradeoffs inherent to alternative land use scenarios. The metrics specific to terrestrial habitat conservation accounting reveal how land use in an area contributes to

  1. habitat value for terrestrial vertebrates,
  2. species movement potential,
  3. conservation priority areas.

Model outcomes focus on the landscape's capacity to facilitate or inhibit species' movement and the suitability of an area's land use for supporting terrestrial vertebrates. Scenarios that involve changes to land use can therefore be evaluated on the basis of their impact on habitat suitability and movement potential. 

Movement potential is evaluated under the assumptions that natural landscapes generally facilitate movement and converted landscapes generally inhibit movement. The terrestrial habitat models are also used to evaluate the acreage affected by proposed land use change that intersects with predefined and/or user-defined habitat conservation priorities.

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