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Environmental Studies

Professor Nelson Helps Answer the Big Question- What is Nature Worth?

Story posted April 28, 2011

How do you put a price value on the environment?  This was the exact question that Bowdoin’s Professor Erik Nelson tried to help Peter Kareiva, Heather Tallis, Taylor H. Ricketts, Gretchen C. Daily, and Stephen Polasky answer in their new book Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services.

Humans rely heavily upon ecosystem services, services that the environment provides for free, but the importance of the services are often overlooked and undervalued.  Around five years ago the Natural Capital Project was established in order to make people aware of the ecosystem services and to help them make better informed decisions concerning the future and use of these services. Through hard work the project was able to develop a basic theory for measuring the monetary value of pollinators in agriculture and the role of wetlands in water treatment. With this theory they were able to develop computer software, named InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs), which determines the services of a landscape and their monetary worth.

This cutting-edge software has already been used in Colombia to discover the benefits of better water use and water distribution. The software has also been used in Hawaii to discover the monetary value of landowners restoring natural forest.

To learn more about this fascinating project buy the book from Amazon by clicking on this link!

To go to the Natural Capital website click here.

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