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Could Putting a Value on Nature Transform US Policy Making?
While price tags are sometimes assigned to certain environmental uses, less attention has been paid to the other economic values of natural systems, Katie Warnell, senior policy associate in the Nicholas Institute’s Ecosystem Services Program, told Context.
"If you cut down a forest, that increases gross domestic product and looks good on an economic spreadsheet, but that doesn't capture that you've jeopardized the future value of that area and other benefits it was providing," Warnell said.
Warnell and other partners within the Nicholas Institute are part of a working group led by the US Geological Survey that is helping the United States develop strategies for systematically quantifying ecosystems' condition and benefits through natural capital accounting. Their pilot project resulted in an interactive StoryMap mapping ecosystem services in the Southeast.