Great Nature Sale

GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK! BUSINESS

Business leaders and environmentalists say putting an economic value on nature could be the best way to save it. One conservation organization views it as “The Great Nature Sale.” (BBC)

Join the Great Nature Project to invest in nature without spending a dime.

See it, snap it, and upload it at GreatNatureProject.org. Business leaders might asses the "natural capital" of this flower by the nutrients it provides, the carbon it absorbs, and any possible medical value it might have. Photograph by National Geographic Staff

See it, snap it, and upload it at GreatNatureProject.org. Business leaders might asses the “natural capital” of this flower by the nutrients it provides, the carbon it absorbs, and any possible medical value it might have.
Photograph by National Geographic Staff

Discussion Ideas

  • Read the BBC article. What factors are business leaders considering when assessing an area’s “natural capital”? How would you put a value on nature?
    • Business leaders are generally considering the benefits of natural environments to business. The conservationist quoted in the BBC article uses the example of mangrove forests in the Philippines. Mangrove forests are wetland ecosystems, and many mangrove forests were destroyed for agricultural and commercial development. The conservationist explains the forest’s natural capital: “If sold for wood the value of mangrove is £1,000 [$1,616] per hectare. But if you factor in storm protection, the fact fish use [the mangrove root system] to breed in, the carbon they absorb—the mangroves are worth around £21,000 [$33,942] per hectare to the local communities.”
      • Factors included when assessing the mangrove forest’s natural capital:
        • value of raw materials that could be harvested (wood)
        • value of the habitat’s carbon sequestration
        • value of use by primary or secondary consumers (food or breeding ground for fish)
        • value of natural infrastructure (storm protection)
      • Other factors that might be included—there are a lot more:
        • value of clean air or water (preventive health care)
        • value of medicinal ingredients (pharmaceutical health)
        • value of cultural preservation (cultural identity)
        • value of long-term sustainability (sustainable development)
        • value that cannot be expressed financially: One environmental critic of “natural capital” says “What we need to do is remove finance from nature and indeed remove finance from many of the places it is in the world today, and think about nature as something that cannot have a price put on it.”
  • How could you use the Great Nature Project to make a case for an area’s value or even “natural capital”?
    • The Great Nature Project might be a great way to document and share a region’s biodiversity and specific set of natural values.

Thanks to Sam for the heads-up on this current-event connection!

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