What is WESPAK-INT? The acronym stands for Wetland Ecosystem Services Protocol for Alaska. This version of WESP has been regionalized for the Alaskan Interior (INT). Other versions have been developed for Southeast Alaska as well as several Lower 48 states and Canadian provinces.
WESPAK-INT is a standardized method for rapidly assessing most of the important natural functions of wetlands in the Interior of Alaska, including water storage, permafrost protection, fish and wildlife habitat support, and others. It responds to a need for a tool that can be applied rapidly by one trained person during a single visit to a wetland, which standardizes the data collected and the way it is interpreted, to indirectly yield relative estimates of a wide variety of important wetland functions and their associated benefits. This need exists because measuring the natural functions of wetlands directly is expensive and may require years of data collection. Although a team of multidisciplinary experts could visit a wetland and render opinions about each of its functions, few applicants for wetland permits can afford this and many do not have access to personnel who are knowledgeable about wetland biogeochemistry, as well as hydrology, botany, soils, aquatic biology, and wildlife, as would be necessary to properly assess all important wetland functions. Entities that are responsible for managing and protecting wetlands do not have unlimited staff to provide such services and expertise either.
The scores and ratings that WESPAK-INT generates are intended for making informed decisions about wetland avoidance, minimization, and replacement. WESPAK-INT can also be used with other tools and measurements to monitor wetland restoration projects and to help assure that wetland restoration efforts offset the unavoidable loss of specific functions and benefits in other wetlands, not just loss of their area.
WESPAK-INT File Citations
- IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS
Smith, M., N. J. Walker, I. J. Stenhouse, C. M. Free, M. Kirchhoff, O. Romanenko, S. Senner, N. Warnock, and V. Mendenhall, 2014. Important Bird Areas of Alaska. Audubon Alaska, Anchorage, AK.
- HUC-12 WATERSHED
Data available from the USGS at: https://apps.nationalmap.gov/services/
- GROWING SEASON LENGTH
Hoffman, F.M., J. Kumar, R.T. Mills, and W.W. Hargrove. 2013. Representativeness-based sampling network design for the State of Alaska. Landscape Ecology 28:1567-1586.
- AK LIMESTONE GEOLOGY
Derived from: U.S. Geological Survey (1980). Geologic map of Alaska. Reston, Va.
- PRECIPITATION SURPLUS
Kittel, T.G.F., N.A. Rosenbloom, C. Kaufman, J.A. Royle, C. Daly, H.H. Fisher, W.P. Gibson, S. Aulenbach, D.N. Yates, R. McKeown, D.S. Schimel, and VEMAP2 PARTICIPANTS. 2016. VEMAP 2: Monthly Historical and Future Climate Data, Alaska, USA. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. http://dx.doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1344