Environmental Stewardship

The state of Missouri boasts a myriad of environmental assets – rivers and reservoirs, forests and parks, productive agricultural land, and mineral and energy deposits, to name a few.  But good environmental stewardship is necessary to ensure the sustained economic and cultural benefits of these resources.  Read more to explore the status of some key environmental assets in Missouri.

Soil Health

Evidence from the Virginia Cooperative Extension argues that soil health fundamentally links to land productivity and environmental sustainability.  Therefore, understanding, protecting, improving, and maintaining soil health is critical.

According to the Nature Conservancy, the potential benefits from achieving widespread soil health adoption can include:

  • Mitigating 25 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The equivalent to taking 5 million passenger cars off the road for one year
  • Reducing 344 million pounds of nutrient loss to the environment
  • Eliminating 116 million metric tons of soil erosion
  • Creating 3.6 million acre-feet of available water capacity in cropland soils

Click the map below to explore soil attributes across the state of Missouri.

Soil Taxonomy Order (Dominant Condition)and Hydrologic Soil Group (Dominant Condition) by Map Unit. NRCS (2016).

Forests and Trees

Forest health matters.  Forests are critical habitat for wildlife; theyproduce timber and sequester carbon; forests mitigate floods and droughts, purify water and air, and perform other services intrinsically linked to the physical and economic health of the population.  Even urban forests and trees have economic benefits – they increase property values, and increased tree canopy can benefit human mental health and well-being.  Humans have altered the majority of forests in Missouri, but proper management of protected, commercial, and private forests is essential to ensure that forests continue to function in the future.

Click to see the 2017 Tree City USA report for Missouri

Unfortunately, Missouri’s state forests are threatened by numerous pests and diseases.  These threats to forest health are monitored and combated by numerous state and local agencies.  However, according to the Missouri Community Forestry Council, trees are being lost in our towns faster than they are being planted.  As many as 88 communities in Missouri are actively working to protect their urban forests by participating in Tree City USA, a program which supports urban forests.  To learn more about Missouri’s Tree City USA cities and campuses, and  to view a map of tree canopy across the state, click the links below.

Missouri tree canopy (2011) and cropland information (2014) with EPA Brownfield (hazardous waste) sites (2014)

Aquatic Resources

For information about the status and stewardship guidelines of Missouri aquatic resources, please see the Missouri Department of Conservation Water Protection Program web page and the Missouri Department of Conservation 2017 Fish Advisory Report.