Report Measures the Economic Value of Forests in the Eastern United States
The Nature Conservancy and TD Bank Group combine their respective expertise in ecology and economics to calculate the natural capital values of the ecosystem goods and services that forests provide
New York City | December 07, 2017
A new report prepared by The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with TD Bank Group (TD), presents useful evidence on the significant benefits and value of forests for people and their communities in the United States. Putting a Value on the Ecosystem Services Provided by Forests in the Eastern United States: Case Studies on Natural Capital and Conservation, measures the natural capital value of forest ecosystems in six forest regions across the eastern seaboard, using economic tools and assigning an annual dollar value, per acre, to the natural services they provide.
Of the forest properties evaluated in this report, the dollar value of the services provided that would be lost absent their protection averages to an estimated $4,028 per acre, per year. Remove a forest and those costs are paid by local communities and society at large.
“The forests studied for this report, and countless others across the country, provide essential services to Americans every day,” said Timm Kroeger, senior environmental economist with The Nature Conservancy. “The value of these services too often is not taken into account in decision-making. We hope that this analysis helps inspire both the private and public sectors to explore collaborative approaches to conservation, factor the natural capital values of America’s forests into decision-making and continue to explore the myriad ways in which forests matter to all Americans.”
Natural capital measures the ecological services that nature provides to us, like the ability of forests to absorb and store atmospheric carbon dioxide, filter the air we breathe, as well as clean and retain water – thereby helping to mitigate flooding – among others. The bulk of the natural capital values of the protected lands used as case studies in this report are related to carbon sequestration and storage in both trees and soils. The six forest regions examined in the report include: Northern Appalachian-Acadian (NY, VT, NH, ME); North Atlantic Coast (DE, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MD, NH, ME); High Allegheny Plateau (NY, PA, NJ); Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain (VA, NC, SC); Florida Peninsula (FL), and Tropical Florida (FL).
"Forests provide essential benefits and services to society, from filtering the air that we breathe to providing opportunities for outdoor recreation," says Brian DePratto, senior economist with TD Economics. "This report shows that conserving our wild places is not only valuable in creating a legacy of healthy forests for future generations to enjoy, but they also generate economic value that helps enhance quality of life. Assigning an economic value to the services and benefits that America's forests provide will enable more informed decision-making for both conservation and sustainable development."
Along with ecological services, forests provide a wide range of additional benefits for public health, recreation, the conservation of biodiversity, in addition to their social and cultural importance. Although it is challenging to assign dollar values for many of these benefits, the report ultimately provides useful data for public and private decisionmakers on the vital need to invest in their conservation and protection through collaborative approaches.
The case studies in this report include properties that were protected through a five-year collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and TD Bank to conserve high-priority forests across the eastern seaboard of the United States, under the TD Forests program. This partnership has helped conserve over 19,000 acres in eight forest conservation projects.
To learn more about the collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and TD Bank Group, please visit our online site. For more information on The Nature Conservancy’s work to conserve forests visit nature.org/forests.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.