Natural systems provide the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, and everything else we need to live and work. Valuing natural systems is crucial to solutions at every scale of resource management. We examine 23 general categories of ecosystem services, such as food, water, materials, climate stability, biodiversity, recreation and cultural value. These break out into location and place-specific subcategories. Recreation alone has over 300 subcategories (like walking, skiing, fishing, wildlife viewing). Understanding the extent to which a project or policy contributes to or loses value in natural capital is crucial to understanding the full impacts, benefits and costs, of a decision or project.
In addition, valuing assets has many benefits, including education about the benefits that ecosystems provide, better project design, such as a stormwater projects that provide co-benefits like salmon habitat, the ability to leverage funding, or better planning and buy-in for restoration investments.
Batker and Briceno have supported billions of dollars of restoration investments and done valuation work in the Columbia River Basin, Mississippi River Basin, Colorado River Basin, Long Island Sound, and many smaller watersheds in the U.S. and around the world.
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