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New project on nature's 'capital'

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Nature Conservancy, WWF, and Stanford University today announced the launch of an innovative partnership that aims to change the way governments and policy makers think about nature worldwide.

The program, called the Natural Capital Project, is an unprecedented effort to calculate the economic and other benefits nature provides to people so-called "ecosystem services" such as clean water, flood control, and climate regulation. By answering the question, "What is nature worth to people?" the Natural Capital Project highlights the many ways in which the world's forests, grasslands, arid lands, freshwater systems and oceans, support our daily lives.

"This exciting project brings together the expertise of leading field conservationists and a world-class university," said Steve McCormick, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. "Recognizing that ecosystems should be protected for their intrinsic values as well as their economic values will help us prioritize the conservation of the world's natural systems. This, in turn, can help improve the quality of life for people throughout the world."

Ecosystem services can include everything from soil fertility to clean air to pest control. These services are essential to human health. As the world's natural resources are depleted through unsustainable land-use practices, important ecosystem services are being lost at an alarming rate. The impact is greatest felt by the world's poorest people, who cannot afford to buy or replace the resources they are losing from nature.

Two groundbreaking scientific papers, authored by scientists from Natural Capital Project partner organizations, were published in PLoS Biology today. These papers are the first to show how ecosystem services can influence the outcomes of conservation planning efforts. Research led by Kai Chan at University of British Columbia and Rebecca Shaw of The Nature Conservancy suggests that
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Contact: Tom Lalley
tom.lalley@wwfus.org
202-778-9544
World Wildlife Fund
31-Oct-2006


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