Valuing Wilderness – Literally

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)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.