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    Geographic Information Systems Lab

    Environmental Benefits Index

    This Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) is a composite score of multiple ecological benefits.  The score is based on a 0-300 scale, where a score of 300 is most valuable from a conservation perspective.  The EBI is the sum of the three independent layers described elsewhere on this site: soil erosion risk, water quality risk , and a wildlife habitat quality layers. Each of those component layers contributes 0-100 points to the EBI.

    This layer was created with the intention to rank CRP and other critical lands on multiple ecological benefits simultaneously. This approach is similar to the EBI used by the Farm Service Agency to rank farmers requests to enroll land in the Conservation Reserve Program. Our approach differs in that it offers flexibility in the weighting scheme, and allows users to explore both the spatial distribution of the data and the consequences of using alternative weighting systems. For example if, identifying lands of high soil erosion risk is important, the habitat quality and water quality risk maps can be downweighted (e.g. scaled from 0-50). This woiuld produce a different map than when all attributes are weighted equally.

    The Map Tool developed for this project provides a visual approach to assess the consequences of using different weighting systems. Management agencies with GIS capabilities can also download the source data for localized, customized map use.

    Environmental Benefits Index

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