If the data are available to help quantify goods and services, researchers say, values can be attached to them and used to reach societal compromises. This might lead to most but not all of an environmental resource being protected, and some but not all of resources available for commercial use. The combined value of the ecosystem protection and commercial development may approach, or even exceed the value of a hands-off approach.
Part of the problem now is that a lot of the data we need to make this type of assessment simply isnt available, said Sally Hacker, an OSU associate professor of zoology. Biological, economic and sociological data could be enormously helpful to help us reach better management decisions, and this is something we need to improve.
Fairly good data were available in the case of the Thailand mangrove forests, however, and researchers used it to make their case. On a given area of mangrove forest there, the assigned value of ecosystem services storm protection, biological habitat, etc. was determined to be about $19 million with a hands-off approach and no commercial use whatsoever.
But with a full range of uses, which included leaving 80 percent of the area in mangrove forests and gaining almost all of their flood protection ability, the value was found to be $17.5 million, Hacker said. And this allowed for a commercial shrimp fishery, gathering of wood products, fishing and other commercial uses.
At some point we have to get beyond this either-or mentality when it comes to land and ocean management, Cramer said. Insisting that our ecosystems be either totally protected, or totally developed, just leads to polarization, entrenched positions and a loss of communication. We can do better than that, and a good scientific approach can help show the way.
In the final analysis, the researchers said, everything should be on the table the value of ecosystem services, the pr
|Contact: Sally Hacker|
Oregon State University