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Ecosystem Services of the Galveston Bay Region

Ecosystem services are the benefits that people and businesses receive from a functioning ecosystem. Examples of ecosystem services include adequate supplies of water for domestic and industrial uses; filtration of particulates from air and impurities from rainwater by forests; habitat for birds and wildlife which provide the basis for ecotourism; and wetlands, bayous and water bodies that regulate stormwater and mitigate flooding.

The greater Houston-Galveston region is rich in forest, grassland, wetland and bayou habitats, which provide an abundance of ecological services that are enjoyed by many people. The types and values of ecological services are not homogenous as one moves around the region, but they are plentiful. Habitats in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed provide a significant contribution to the economy in the forms of commercial fishing, recreational activity (e.g. swimming, birding and fishing), and flood mitigation.

The Houston-Galveston Region is expected to experience major population growth by 2035. The Houston-Galveston Area Council has projected the population for the region will increase by 3.5 million people and will require significant increases in housing and office space to support that growth. Economic development and land-use conversion in the Houston-Galveston region is expected to put significant pressure on local ecosystems. Decision-makers need to factor in values and preferences for ecosystem services so existing services can be maximized and the full impact of altering ecosystem functions can be evaluated.

 

Click on the link below to learn about ecosystem service planning for the Galveston Bay watershed.

Galveston Bay Watershed Ecosystem Services Planning Workshop

 

Smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) salt marsh located near Bayou Vista. Copyright istockphoto.comWetlands provide very important ecosystem services to the Galveston Bay watershed. Copyright istockphoto.com

 
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