A new study by a Canadian ecological economist shows that intact forests in northern nations provide approximately $250 billion in environmental services to those countries:
It estimated that services provided by intact forests in filtering water and waste, providing habitats for animals and plants, capturing greenhouse gases and attracting tourists were worth about $250 billion a year.
For example, researcher Mark Anielski said that forests help counter global warming by storing an estimated 67 billion tons of carbon in Canada alone–nearly eight times the amount of carbon produced by human activities worldwide in 2000.
Anielski says that the problem with the conventional government accounting practices is that they show that forests provide economic value only as building materials or pulp. He suggests that governments look instead at economic value of intact forests, instead of their material value. It would appear that governments can’t see the forest for the lumber.
“This natural capital should be in the balance sheets of nations,” he said.
“If these ecosystem services were counted in Canada, they would amount to roughly 9 percent of GDP,” he said. Countries including Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and Algeria have annual gross domestic product (GDP) of around $250 billion.
It’s my understanding that ecological economics is a growing trend in pro-environment circles. Wouldn’t it be great if all natural resources were valued for their environmental value instead of their material value?
Photo courtesy of WWW-UK.