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 Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>