Monday, October 27, 2008

Conserve or restore: the economic case

Environmental Research Web: A US-wide analysis has found that native terrestrial ecosystems generally provided more valuable goods and services than ecosystems that had been restored. The factors examined included water regulation, greenhouse-gas removal, storm protection, nutrient cycling, soil-erosion control, production of biodiversity, recreational and aesthetic value, as well as production of commodities such as hay, lumber, fish and game.

“Our results indicate that conservation is preferable to restoration,” said Walter Dodds of Kansas State University. “Some laws governing wetlands say that it's OK to develop as long as there's not a net loss of the ecosystem, so developers will create an artificial wetland and pave over the old one. But if the two wetlands don't have the same value, maybe the no net-loss policies are somewhat misguided.”

Dodds and colleagues from the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Simpson College, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Colorado State University, Utah State University, South Dakota State University and a prairie restoration consultancy found that restored lands offered 31% to 93% of native land benefits within a decade after restoration, depending on the type of ecosystem.

“Overall, natural ecosystems had a higher value," Dodds said. "For instance, people will pay more to go to an old-growth forest than to one that's just been logged."….

Photo from brochure Seattle and the Orient. "A Washington Fir 9 Feet in Diameter"

No comments: