Valuing Nature in Delaware

When making a financial investment, you likely choose something that will prove to be resilient during tough times while serving you well in the long-term. Nature is similar. The healthier and more diverse it is, the higher its returns.

Delaware’s Nature Portfolio

For a small state, Delaware boasts an impressive nature portfolio.

In the midst of urbanization and large-scale agriculture, dense forests and sprawling wetlands buffer the landscape during extreme weather events. At their healthiest, these habitats also filter air and water and absorb rainfall to reduce flooding.  

Just offshore, coastal waters support horseshoe crabs floating in the surf, sometimes landing topsy-turvy along the shore. Under the hard shells of these prehistoric creatures flows copper-based blood with primitive cells containing a naturally-derived substance called Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) for which there is no synthetic substitute. When LAL comes into contact with bacterial toxins, clotting occurs, a reaction that aids in testing the sterility of vaccines, drugs, prosthetics and other medical devices.

Underground across the landscape, unassuming earthworms aerate and nourish Delaware’s soils while guiding water and nourishment towards trees, shrubs, crops and other living organisms. Up in the air, bees, bats, birds and butterflies advance pollination – a global process that facilitates reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants.

Ecosystem Services

These species and the habitats in which they reside make up ecosystems, which support all life on Earth. Ecosystem services are the things nature gives us — clean water and air, fertile soils, storm protection and flood control — for free. They are also directly tied to our economies in the way of food, fuel, recreation and tourism.
But can we quantify the benefits nature gives us — not just aesthetic quality, but measurable value?

The answer is YES. But measuring just how much nature’s benefits are worth to a community or the world isn’t easy. Often, the tremendous importance and economic value of these benefits are appreciated only after they’re gone.

Valuing Nature

More and more, scientists realize natural systems are critical to economic health, along with humanity's general well-being. Economists realize a healthy environment is needed to sustain growth. It’s a way of thinking that is changing the face of conservation.

Respecting the dynamic connection between economy and ecology drives much of the Conservancy's work. It’s why we are able to count many corporations and government agencies among our partners, leading us to become involved in efforts such as the DuPont Clear into the Future® Initiative which aims to preserve and enhance the beauty and integrity of the Delaware Estuary so that it can support both commerce and nature, as it has for generations.

Together, we’re providing tools that help decision-makers protect biodiversity and secure full benefits from ecosystems. We’re also developing new financial, market and policy instruments that fund the protection of ecosystem services in a fair and credible manner. Once achieved, we’ll really be putting these landscapes to work.



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