Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program

Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program

Initiated in 2005 as the Ecosystem Services Research Program, EPA’s Sustainable and Healthy Communities Program conducts innovative ecological research to provide community planners, land managers, and other decision-makers with the information and methods they need to:

  • understand the impacts of trade-offs that alternative policy, planning, or management choices generate for individual natural benefits
  • provide data-driven case studies that apply environmental, economic, and social criteria to relevant short- and long-term planning goals.

SHC conducts ongoing place-based studies in multiple locations across the U.S. These pilot projects include a variety of ecosystem types (wetlands, agricultural lands, forests, and coral reefs), range across urban, regional, and national scales, and examine multiple areas of research interest and concern.

These studies also mark a departure from EPA’s longstanding approach to risk assessment, which focused models on narrow or even individual sets of environmental endpoints. By acknowledging the tight and complex linkages between individual natural benefits, this approach recognizes that management decisions that target one benefit area may have far-reaching positive or negative impacts on others.

SHC on LandScope

  • EPA Enviroatlas

    The EnviroAtlas is a web-based, easy-to-use, mapping application now in development that will allow users to view and analyze multiple ecosystem services in a specific region.

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  • Connectivity, Natural Land Cover 2006, Water Ignored

    This nationally focused green infrastructure assessment adds context lost when political boundaries are imposed.

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  • Percent Stream Buffer Zone as Natural Land Cover

    This layer describes the amount of natural land cover contained within a buffer area extending 30 meters to each side of all streams contained within a river basin.

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