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Research Projects

About Ecosystem Services


For Prospective Students



Beef and Beyond:
New Markets for Rangeland Ecosystem Services


Rangelands in the western United States provide a variety of ecosystem services that benefit people locally and regionally.  In addition to beef and other animal products, well-stewarded rangelands can provide ecosystem services such as timber, fiber, wildlife habitat, soil erosion and water quality control, carbon sequestration which contributes to climate stabilization, and the genetic resources of diverse plant and animal species. Beneficiaries of ecosystem services span from rural to urban communities, such as the downstream households that benefit from the clean water filtered by intact range and forest lands upstream.

Unfortunately, the changing economics of ranching, pressures from increased exurban development, and demographic shifts in the rancher community may inhibit ranchers’ ability to protect ecosystem functions, threatening the future provision of ecosystem services from working rangelands. This situation is further complicated by the fact that existing economic markets generally do not compensate ranchers for ecosystem services that are not directly tied to livestock production. This situation, however, is rapidly changing, with potentially important – but still uncertain – outcomes for ranchers and society.

In collaboration with our research partners (below), our lab is exploring ways of raising the ranching bottom line while at the same supporting sustainable land stewardship that protects environmental benefits for the broader public. We are focusing on ecosystem markets as a tool for conserving ecosystems and their services.

Ecosystem markets have been developing worldwide over the last decade and have provided payments to landowners and ranchers for a variety of services, including water quality improvements, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration.

Market incentives may be especially beneficial to landowners in need of funding to improve land stewardship, implement new conservation projects, or to avoid selling their land due to insufficient income from current ranching practices.

Our research includes exploring emerging markets and identifying information gaps to develop tools to help ranchers and investors develop ecosystem service markets.



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Lab Members Involved

Carrie Presnall
E-mail: carriekp@email.arizona.edu

Laura López-Hoffman
E-mail: lauralh@email.arizona.edu




Presnall, CK, L López-Hoffman, G Nabhan, J Goldstein, R Knight & G Ruyle.  Beef and beyond: ecosystem markets for US Rangelands.  In review at Rangeland Ecology and Management.

Nabhan, GP, L López-Hoffman, CK Presnall, R Knight, J Goldstein, H Gosnell, L Gwen, D Thilmany and S Charnley. Payments for ecosystem services: keeping working lands in working hands.  In review for Saving the Wide-Open Spaces, T Sheridan, S Charnley, GP Nabhan (eds).  University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

  photo of rangeland
Research Partners

Gary P. Nabhan

Richard L. Knight

Josh Goldstein

George Ruyle

Diablo Trust

Related Links

The Katoomba Group

Ecosystem Marketplace

WRI’s Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services Initiative

Corporate Ecosystem Services Review

The Chesapeake EcoFinance Company LLC (CEFC)

Markit Environmental Registry


The Willamette Partnership

Blackstone Ranch Institute



phone (520) 626-9868 | e-mail lauralh@email.arizona.edu

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Lopez-Hoffman lab Udall Center for Studies
in Public Policy
School of Natural Resources
and the Environment


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