But if big business and the conservation movement continue down the path of confrontation, all of humanity will be put in peril as our ever-shrinking natural resources vanish from the Earth, argues Gretchen C. Daily, the Bing Interdisciplinary Research Scientist at Stanfords Center for Conservation Biology.
Weve got to change our economic system and begin to make peace with the planet, Daily says. Its time to begin figuring out how to assign economic value to ecosystems and the services they provide, and incorporate those values into public policy.
Daily will outline her vision of an ecosystem-based economy when she delivers the Topical Lecture, New Frontiers in Conservation, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston on Feb. 17. Her remarks will include insights distilled from her soon-to-be-released book, The New Economy of Nature: The Quest to Make Conservation Profitable (Island Press/Shearwater Books), coauthored with journalist Katherine Ellison.
Natures price tag
In her AAAS lecture, Daily will argue that ecosystems are capital assets that are being liquidated at humanitys peril just as demand for the stream of societal benefits they provide is peaking. She will advocate making a systematic assessment of ecosystem capital, as is done routinely for other types of capital, and will describe practical ways of incorporating the value of ecosystems into policy.
Trees, for example, could be worth something more than timber, acquiring financial value for the gifts they give while standing and [being] part of a healthy, functioning forest, she explains.