Valuing nature’s services: priceless
In their book “Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities,” authors Mark Benedict and Edward McMahon approach planning to protect natural lands and processes on the same level as planning for other types of public infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and storm-water systems. Green infrastructure is defined as an interconnected network of land (including natural areas and features, public and private conservation lands, working lands and other protected open spaces) that is planned and managed for its natural resource values and for the associated benefits it confers to human populations. Benedict and McMahon argue that green infrastructure is just as deserving of investment of public funds as traditional infrastructure projects. They cite compelling examples of the many ecological and economic benefits provided by green infrastructure that most people take for granted.
Here in the Upper Delaware region, we can draw similar conclusions about the value of services provided by natural resources. Natural lands and the services they provide are not just a “nice-to-have” amenity, but are rather a “must-have” necessity that affords diverse and valuable social and economic benefits—an irreplaceable life-support system for both people and nature.
[Susan Beecher is the executive director of the Pike County Conservation District.]