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Valuing Wilderness – Literally

| Friday May 20th, 2005 | 0 Comments

real_leaf.gifIf you’ve read Natural Capitalism, then you’re already familiar with the concept of putting a price tag on “ecosystem services” as well as on the negative externalities of business, such as pollution. Outside Magazine’s Bruce Barcott reports that maintaining wilderness intact has benefits far beyond the psychological and spiritual. For example, “studies of rivers and lakes reveal that healthy watersheds provide millions of dollars’ worth of water filtration, just one of many such natural services critical for healthy communities”.
Taking a more sophisticated economic look at wilderness, it’s apparant that a forest can sometimes be worth quite literally more if left standing than if cut and sold as lumber – recreational tourism is a part of that equation, but so are quantifiable services such as oxygen production, erosion prevention and property values. It’s also apparant that you can’t economically argue your way out of all threats (like forestry) in all cases, so it’s wise to do your math carefully before preaching.
(image from Dan Winters)


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