Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Development of ecological management system supports integration of economics and ecology

06.02.2006


Pitt professor’s article considers nature as a service provider



A study published Feb. 1 in the journal Bioscience finds that giving economic value to environmental systems may actually help preserve those systems in the long run. The study, led by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) Professor Stephen Farber and titled "Linking Ecology and Economics for Ecosystem Management," uses several case studies to illustrate how an ecosystem management perspective can aid in management decisions.

The research included in the study takes an element of a natural system, like a tree, and focuses on the services provided by that element, such as its ecological benefits. This approach brings together two disciplines that historically are not allied: economics, which traditionally assigns set values, and ecology, which characterizes how nature works.


"That means looking at a tree as something more than a piece of timber," said Farber. "The tree clearly has a monetary value as timber, but it also has an aesthetic value, and can reduce flooding and provide storm damage."

The challenge, according to Farber, comes when people make the argument that you can’t place a value on nature. "They say you should not trivialize nature by assigning it monetary values, but implicitly we do that all the time, for example, when we cut down trees to put in a parking lot. My argument would be that we need to think about nature’s values more explicitly."

In order to facilitate a more explicit way of thinking, Farber and the other researchers worked with the staffs of three Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites to use the ecological management system to address environmental issues. In the case of the Plum Island ecosystem, located in the estuary and watersheds of Plum Island Sound off the Massachusetts coast, that meant reducing estuarine eutrophication and increasing the maintenance of wetlands while providing adequate water supplies for a growing human population. The researchers then compared the effects of two management alternatives on the delivery of specific ecosystem services.

In each of the case studies, the goal was to formalize a set of services and a way of evaluating them. The decision regarding which alternative would be better would have to be made by members of the management team, taking into consideration which services are valued more by impacted communities.

The application, however, can be explicit. "The situation in New Orleans is classic," said Farber, who was on the National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed Louisiana’s coastal restoration plan, both before and after the disaster. "Before Katrina, everyone was saying that there were not enough wetlands to protect the city. A crude ’rule of thumb’ is that three miles of wetlands will reduce storm surges by one foot, and that an acre of wetlands provides roughly $20,000 worth of services. But that same acre would sell for only $500. The gap between market value and social value is huge…if everything in the grocery store was free, we’d walk out with it all. Markets, then, cannot be relied upon to preserve resources of great social value, such as wetlands."

Farber’s research focuses on microeconomics and environmental economics. A professor of public and urban affairs and international development in GSPIA, he earned his Ph.D. degree in economics at Vanderbilt University in 1973. He has coauthored publications in the journals Science and Nature, as well as in various economic journals, including Ecological Economics.

Hali Felt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pitt.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>