Maine receives more than $14 billion each year in uncounted economic benefits from its natural environment, according to a study released today by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.
“Valuing Maine’s Natural Capital” was conducted in collaboration with Spatial Informatics Group, LLC. Researchers examined the unrealized value in Maine’s natural resources and excluded products and services that are already traded on the marketplace such as lumber or lobster.
“We wanted to draw attention to the significant unrecognized value of Maine’s ecosystems,” said Manomet Senior Program Leader John Gunn. “Nature plays a huge role in our economy. When we make decisions in Maine, we need a better way to incorporate the value of natural resources.”
The report assessed the value of
- Scenic beauty;
- Disturbance regulation (e.g. flood control provided by floodplains);
- Atmospheric regulation (e.g. forest capacity to absorb GHGs);
- Wildlife habitat;
- Nutrient regulation (e.g. wetlands’ ability to filter/prevent pollution);
- Pollination and seeding of crops and forests;
- Recreation opportunities;
- Maintenance of healthy soils; and
- Water supply and regulation through groundwater recharge.
Gunn pointed out that the natural environment provides benefits that might preclude more expensive consequences. For example, keeping forests intact is far cheaper than building water filtration plants or repairing flood damage after a tropical storm.
“We may never know the exact price of our natural resources,” said report author Austin Troy, of the Spatial Informatics Group. “But assigning some value to natural capital is clearly more accurate than assigning none, as is currently the norm.”
For more information please contact:
John Gunn, Senior Program Leader
Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences