Choosing What to Conserve

It breaks my heart to think that we have to triage species to save. The video lesson from the Introduction to Conservation Course said that we have to decide which ones to save because “conservation operates under limited resources”. There are not enough resources to save all the species. I cannot help but wonder whether this is actually true.

Putting a Monetary Value on Ecosystem Services

Valuing nature is about showing the importance of nature to human well-being, business and the economy, so that nature’s value can be factored into decisions. Ecosystem services are worth a large amount of money and a vast array of benefits. Here are some examples of the value of ecosystem services. Losing just 1 km of mangrove land in Thailand can increase flood damage by half a million dollars per square kilometre. In Costa Rica, natural forest based pollinators increase coffee yields by 20%.

In Australia, strong cultural and spiritual ties to certain areas have protected them from mining which would have allowed for extraction of very valuable minerals. Therefore besides monetary valuations, valuing Nature based on its social and cultural value can help preserve it.

Despite wide value, nature is commonly overlooked and undervalued in decisions, therefore many ecosystems are lost and degraded. Money is not everything, but is a good common language to help others understand the value of nature. It is important to remember though that some areas are difficult to put a value on. For example, cultural services cannot be easily translated into monetary terms. Valuation can also be challenging, because ecosystems are complex, therefore monetary valuations of nature are usually conservative.

I don’t agree with putting a price on everything because I believe Nature IS intrinsically valuable. However I feel that many people around me are disconnected from Nature and do not understand it’s importance. Therefore I can see how putting a monetary value on nature can help conserve it, as money is a common language that people understand. Besides valuing Nature economically, it should also be valued socially to help us understand the full implications of the choices that we make. This will help us look at the longer-term benefits of people and the economy instead of making short-term decision just based on financial interests. The former sort of argument would more likely persuade governments and businesses to take better care of the natural world so that it can continue to sustain us all in future.

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