Navigation Links
What's nature worth? New computer models tell all

Breath in. The air is free. But we'd all agree it's not worthless. So, what's the price tag on benefits provided by nature?

In 1997, the University of Vermont's Robert Costanza and his co-authors put the answer at $33 trillion per year in a now-famous paper in the journal Nature. In the decade following, the science of "ecosystem services" has bloomed. This young discipline studies how nature--through climate regulation, soil formation, crop pollination, flood protection, and so on--supports human welfare, and estimates its value in economic terms.

Now, Costanza and his colleagues at UVM's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics have launched a project to solve a central problem that this young science faces: creating a fast way for policy-makers to understand the specific ecosystem services in their area--and the impacts of different land use decisions--whether looking at a local watershed or whole continent.

Over the next year, with an $813,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Costanza and his team will create a set of computer models and tools that will give a sophisticated portrait of the ecosystem dynamics and value for any spot on earth.

"Land use planners, county commissioners, investment bankers, anyone who is interested," Cosntanza said, "will be able to go on the Web, use our new models, and be able to identify a territory and start getting answers."

For example, if a town council is trying decide the value of a wetland--compared to, say, building a shopping mall there--these models will help them put a dollar value on it. If a country wants to emulate Costa Rica's program of payments to landowners to maintain their land as a forest, they'll better be able to figure the ecosystem value of various land parcels to establish fair payments.

To build the new models, Costanza's team will gather experts on a range of ecosystems to two extended meetings in Burlington, one this fall and another next spring. In small teams, they'll link together the latest understandings of how forests, grasslands, wetlands, open ocean, and other ecosystem types function with detailed maps of where these natural communities occur and other geographic information.

Next, these models will be informed by new methods of estimating the value of ecosystems. Conventional economics has relied on the rather clunky notion of "willingness to pay" to determine how much a product is worth. This approach doesn't apply well to many ecosystem services that are either indispensable--like air to breath--or exceedingly subtle--like global climate regulation.

"Instead, we're looking for effects of ecosystems on human welfare, whether people perceive them or not--rather than just asking them how much they'd pay for this service," Costanza said.

And finally, next year, the project will put out its results through an interactive website--perhaps a bit like Google Earth for ecosystems services--journal articles, and other reports.

Recent studies have made it clear that not only do ecosystem services provide a majority of income for poor people in developing countries, but, more startling, that the economic value of the world's ecosystems is much larger than the value of all the products and services usually put under the umbrella of "the global economy."

Ultimately, Costanza hopes the project will help policymakers realize that conservation is not a luxury; it must be a key economic goal. If his project succeeds, "it will allow us to move beyond the counterproductive conservation vs. development debate to thinking about conservation as a form of development," he writes.


'"/>

Source:University of Vermont


Related biology news :

1. Whats really making you sick? Plant pathologists offer the science behind Sick Building Syndrome
2. Whats shaped like a pear and has 2 genomes? Check the pond
3. Whats next for gene therapy? Plastic
4. Whats in the water? Estrogenic activity documented in fish caught in Pittsburghs rivers
5. Gene Signatures Predict Interferon Response For Multiple Sclerosis Patients
6. Bioelectronic ‘signatures?hold key to DNA mutations
7. The circadian clock: Understanding natures timepiece
8. Scientists map the world for nature conservation
9. Brain Scan Study of Smokers Reveals Signature of Craving
10. Scientists to mimic nature for newest cancer drugs
11. Researchers create functioning artificial proteins using natures rules
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:11/29/2016)... , November 29, 2016 Nearly one billion matches ... Reading ... DERMALOG ... of an efficient Identity Management. (PRNewsFoto/DERMALOG Identification Systems) ... DERMALOG is Germany's largest Multi-Biometric supplier: The company's ...
(Date:11/22/2016)... According to the new market research report "Biometric System Market ... Multi-Factor), Component (Hardware and Software), Function (Contact and Non-contact), Application, and Region ... to grow from USD 10.74 Billion in 2015 to reach USD 32.73 ... Continue Reading ... ...
(Date:11/19/2016)... -- Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil and ... and monitoring, announced today that it has offered a ... independent technology judge determine who has the largest and ... calling platform, and the best customer service. ... what we do – which clearly is not the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... OXFORD, England , December 8, 2016 ... Company, has expanded its customisable SureSeq™ NGS panel range with ... - allowing fast and cost-effective study of variants in familial ... copy number variation (CNV) detection on a single small panel ... and hotspot content. This includes all exons for LDLR ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 08, 2016 , ... This CAST ... approvals for biotech crops. The authors focus on the economic effects in countries that ... approval of new biotech crops and the resultant risk of low level presence (LLP) ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016 Eutilex Co. Ltd. today announced ... $18.9M) Series A financing. This financing round included participation ... and SNU Bio Angel. This new funding brings the ... (US $27.7M) since its founding in 2015. ... development and commercialization of its immuno-oncology programs, expand its ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Lincoln, NE (PRWEB) , ... December 07, 2016 ... ... control systems integration, today announced that it has become a Wonderware Certified System ... Wonderware System Integrator Partner by Schneider Electric Software. , “The System Integrator Partner ...
Breaking Biology Technology: