A coral reef aswarm with ocean life. A honeybee busy over a flower. A forest standing silent guard over a river. These everyday sights of nature bring us joy, wonder and comfort.
But can we quantify the benefits nature gives us—not just aesthetic, but tangible? In a world with so much poverty and hunger, how can we justify paying so much attention to conservation and the environment?
The answer is simple: Human well-being depends on the benefits that nature provides for free, everyday and everywhere. Humans depend on ecosystems such as forests and coral reefs for clean water, fertile soils, food, fuel, storm protection, minerals and flood control.
But measuring just how much nature’s benefits are worth to a community or the world isn’t easy—and often, the tremendous importance and economic value of these benefits are appreciated only upon their loss.
That’s why The Nature Conservancy is a global thought leader in the effort to quantify nature’s benefits. And the Conservancy also sets the pace in incorporating those values into on-the-ground conservation projects that help people and biodiversity.
Measurement: The Conservancy is a founding member of The Natural Capital Project—a partnership with WWF, Stanford University and the University of Minnesota—that helps governments and industry incorporate the value of nature’s benefits into their development and conservation decisions.
The Natural Capital Project:
The Conservancy is also partnering with numerous corporations, such as Dow Chemical Company, to help transform the way businesses make use of natural resources. The five-year collaboration with Dow will help identify the true value of fresh water, clean air and other "green infrastructure" to the corporate bottom line.
And, to ensure that our conservation projects are not only benefiting nature but people as well, the Conservancy and Resources for the Future (RFF) are developing ways to measure the ROI ("return on investment") of conservation's benefits for humans.
Implementation: The Conservancy routinely builds consideration of nature’s benefits to human beings into its work—and works with governments, corporations and other groups to help them do the same.
Knowing the value of what nature gives us—and, through that knowledge, helping others work more sustainably—is at the forefront of biodiversity conservation work today and critical to the Conservancy’s vision for a healthy and prosperous planet.February 15, 2013