What is a Forest Worth – Explicitly?
By Tripp Burwell
This method has its detractors, but proponents assert that if we can find additional motivations for conservation, that can only help the conservation effort.
People frequently cite water purification as one of the most economically valuable aspects of ecosystems services. Water that passes through a healthy ecosystem is less contaminated, and it thus costs less to treat.
People are also willing to pay for water.
The best known case of an economically motivated land conservation action to purify water occurred when New York City opted to restore watersheds in the Catskill Mountains rather than build a new multi-billion dollar filtration plant in the 1990’s.
It was generally understood that land restoration in the headwaters would be cheaper than the cost of the plant.
How much cheaper though? How great were the benefits of conserving forest compared to the cost of treating water?
These questions are difficult to answer for a variety of reasons, but mostly because these benefits are hard to quantify.
Previous researchers who have tried to examine exactly how beneficial healthy forests are for water purification, however, have mostly focused on the effect of the quality of the water going into —> Read More