Agricultural land is a major component of Wyoming’s open spaces: 93% of the privately owned land in this state is classified as agriculture (Hamerlinck et al. 2013). In addition to crop and range habitats, farmers and ranchers also manage a suite of non-crop habitats and structures for services other than food production. Although Wyoming has a strong farming and ranching culture, 69% of the population lives in incorporated cities and towns and may not be aware of the multidimensional role that agricultural land plays in our state (Hamerlinck et al. 2013). The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) provides a framework to categorize ecosystem services as follows: provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services. Ecosystem services provided may vary according to farm type, location, scale, and priorities of the manager.
We are evaluating the ecosystem services provided by agricultural landscapes in Wyoming through a combination of interviews of both producers and the agriculture and conservation professionals that work with them. In other words, we will be answering the question, “What do producers do other than producing food?” using the ecosystem services framework. We will interview 10 producers representing a range of agricultural systems in Wyoming, document the diversity of enterprises, habitats, and ecosystem services represented on their farm or ranch, and present these stories through online videos. The major product of this project will serve to tell stories of the various services that agricultural ecosystems provide. The target audience of these materials will be the broader public, and the materials developed will be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate curriculum at the University of Wyoming to communicate the role of agricultural open spaces in our state to students.
Stay tuned – our goal is to post videos of our farmer interviews by September 1!
We are grateful to the Wyoming Open Spaces Initiative for their generous funding of this work.
Hamerlinck, J.D., Lieske, S.N., Gribb, W.J. 2013. Understanding Wyoming’s Land Resources: Land-Use Patterns and Development Trends. UW Extension Publication B-1244.
Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington,