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NATURAL HERITAGE

Forest Economics Model

forest economics model

The Virginia Forest Economics Model was developed in an effort to map viable forest lands with economic value. Forests play an important role in the ecological and economic health of Virginia. Ecologically, forests in Virginia provide important services which include:

  • Protection of water quality
  • Protection of air quality
  • Aesthetic quality
  • Moderation of climate, including the offsetting of carbon emissions contributing to global warming
  • Provision of habitat for many plants and animal species

Economically, Virginia forests benefit our citizens as the forests contribute to the economy, individual forest landowners, jobs in the forest product industries and through recreational opportunities. Virginia forests and the forest industry have been estimated to contribute $29.44 billion in benefits (www.dof.virginia.gov).

As development pressure continues across the state, remaining resources are being irretrievably lost to development. "From 2001 to 2004, urban growth and development resulted in an average net loss of 26,100 acres of forest land. If the trend continues, Virginia would lose more than 1 million acres of forest land in the next 25 years" (www.dof.virginia.gov).

The development of a GIS model to delineate where valuable forest land exists may serve as a guide to local government, consultants, and developers as to the location of valuable forest land in Virginia. The model also serves as part of a larger green infrastructure plan, which aims to model where Virginia's conservation priorities are located to facilitate an integrated approach to planning and development. For information on the Virginia ConservationVision and the Green Infrastructure Modeling effort, please visit the Virginia ConservationVision website at www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/vaconvision.shtml

The forest economics model uses a variety of datasets and subsequent derived datasets from analyses run in GIS. Datasets include:

  • Species composition (vegetation community type)
  • Soil productivity
  • Forest density
  • Wetland and riparian features
  • Threatened and Endangered species / Natural heritage conservation sites
  • Wildland - Urban Interface data
  • Economic data

To access the Virginia Forest Economic Model Technical Report, click here .

Application of the Forest Economic Model

Some general categories of uses to which the forest economic model data can be applied include:

  • Targeting- to identify management areas as related to above stated goals.
  • Prioritizing- to provide primary or additional justification for key conservation land purchases and other protection activities.
  • Local planning- guidance for comprehensive planning and local ordinance and zoning development.
  • Assessment- to review proposed projects for potential impacts.
  • Land management- to guide property owners and public and private land managers in making land management decisions as related to timberland and forest management activities / plans.
  • Public education- to inform the citizenry about the importance of Virginia 's forests.

Products

Maps will be produced for Coastal Zone, State and each Planning District Commissions is included the final report. The report will be available online and on CD by request and include:

  • Maps
  • Methodology
  • Metadata
  • An ArcGIS geodatabase, shapefiles, and/or ArcINFO Grids.

Data Download

For more information about the Forest Economics Model, please contact Jason Bulluck at jason.bulluck@dcr.virginia.gov or 804-786-8377.

Page last updated 2/11.