Social Values for Ecosystem Services, Version 2.0

The Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center has just released Social Values for Ecosystem Services, Version 2.0 (SolVES 2.0). SolVES 2.0 is a custom toolbar for ArcGIS 9.3 designed to allow users to assess, map, and quantify social values attributed to ecosystem services by various stakeholder groups. Please visit solves.cr.usgs.gov to download and learn more about SolVES 2.0.

ABSTRACT. In response to the need for incorporating quantified and spatially explicit measures of social values into ecosystem services assessments, the Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center (RMGSC), in collaboration with Colorado State University, developed a geographic information system (GIS) application, Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES). SolVES is designed to assess, map, and quantify the perceived social values for ecosystems, such as aesthetics, biodiversity, and recreation.  These values, often equating to cultural ecosystem services, can be analyzed for various stakeholder groups as distinguished by their attitudes and preferences regarding public uses, such as motorized recreation or logging.  SolVES derives a quantitative, 10-point, social-values metric, the Value Index, from a combination of spatial and nonspatial responses to public attitude and preference surveys and calculates metrics characterizing the underlying environment, such as average distance to water and dominant landcover.

With version 2.0 (SolVES 2.0), RMGSC has improved and extended the functionality of SolVES, most notably via integrating the Maxent maximum entropy modeling software to generate more complete social-value maps and to produce robust statistical models describing the relationship between social values and explanatory environmental variables. The addition of Maxent more readily permits the transfer of social-value models to areas where primary survey data are not available. SolVES 2.0 also introduces the flexibility for users to define their own social values and public uses, model any number and type of environmental variables, and modify the spatial resolution of analysis. With these enhancements, SolVES 2.0 provides an improved public-domain tool for decision-makers and researchers to evaluate the social value of ecosystems and to facilitate discussions among diverse stakeholders regarding the tradeoffs among different management options in a variety of physical and social contexts, ranging from forest and rangeland to coastal and marine.