Front Porch Blog

The New Economy of Nature

Historically, the labor of nature has been thought of mostly as free. And with the exception of a few specific goods, such as farm crops and timber, the use of nature’s services is startlingly unregulated. Typically, the property owners – whether individuals, corporations, governments, or other institutions – are not compensated for the services the natural assets on their land provide to society. As a result, many crucial types of ecosystem capital are undergoing rapid degradation and depletion. Compounding the problem is that the importance of ecosystem services is often widely appreciated only upon their loss. But major innovations to our economic and social institutions are needed to capture this value and incorporate it into day-to-day decision-making. Whether they appeal to us or not, experiments in finding market values for such essential gifts of nature as clean water and fresh air are well underway. The great unanswered question in all of this is whether the drive for profits, which has done so much harm to the planet, can finally be harnessed to save it.

News notes are courtesy of Southern Forests Network News Notes





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