1 - Should Nature Be Valued?

Should ecosystems and its services be valued? This question is foremost in the minds of conservationists today with the current debate on rhino horn and ivory and the trading thereof. This Guardian article comes to the conclusion that we have no choice but to so. The emotional approach has failed over the last 25 years and we have to follow a new approach if we are going to win this war.

This is however but a small part of the global discussion, where the identification of the important of ecosystem services has been increasing and the watershed study by De Groot and others on the value of global ecosystem services makes this very clear. Ecosystems and the services they provide have a capital component. It also indicates that payment for these services has to be included in government policies if rural communities are to derive benefit. Communities should be rewarded for the management they can provide.

The original work on the millennium development goals by Scholes and Biggs are still very valid and need to be implemented by the National Planning Commission if we are going to save our natural resources for future generations.

I have included the work by De Groot and others as this globally important work attaches economic value to ecosystems and its services and illustrates the vast economic benefit of nature.

The three references provide important platforms for the critical conservation debate of the role of conservation areas in the land use patterns of our country and how benefits are to be calculated. One slide by De Groot illustrates the holistic approach to nature and should be seen as the primary motivation behind the establishment of conservation areas.

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Image Credit: Ecosystem Services by De Groot

Read the first chapter here