American biologist E.O. Wilson once said, “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.” In today’s world, people pay for these services (in an urban setup) generously, and yet, nature provides that same for free. How then, has it always been taken for granted? Would we perceive this benevolence in a different light if it is communicated in a language best understood by the masses — economics? In many ways, yes! Across the globe, scientists are exploring the implications of ecological economics to drive better, sound and thoughtful conservation influences.
“The annual value of the benefits provided by the Nagarhole National Park are worth millions of dollars, ranging between US$ 13-148 million per annum or US$ 203-2,294 per hectare per annum,” discloses professor K.N. Ninan, the lead author of study, Valuing forest ecosystem services and disservices – case study of a protected area in India (co-author Professor Andreas Kontoleon from Cambridge University), published in the journal Ecosystem Services. The study valuates intangible benefits offered by the park like water and soil conservation, carbon sequestration, recreation, nutrient cycling, air purification, biodiversity, and pollination among others. It doesn’t include benefits such as flood protection, water purification, etc, for the lack of data, “Yet, the net benefit provided by the park i.e., value of services minus disservices (for example, wildlife damages, forest fires) are considerable and worth millions of dollars,” he adds.