Natural Resource Conservation & Quality of Life

A high quality of life and sustained economic vitality relies on the availability of natural resources. Effective conservation of those resources relies, in turn, on the economic security of the community. The most vibrant communities have realized that one cannot exist without the other. CC Environment & Planning helps balance economic development with the ability of the natural environment to support and sustain the community.

What does a high quality of life look like?

Clean air and water, good jobs, outdoor recreation opportunities, beautiful landscapes, quality education, low traffic, less noise, healthy people, good health care, home and community gardens, cultural resources, fresh food, farmers markets, wind protection, abundant and diverse fish and wildlife, quality time with family and friends…

What are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem services are the benefits of nature to households, communities, and economies. The term conveys an important idea: that ecosystems are socially valuable, affecting the quality of our land, water, food, and health.

What are the Benefits?

Establishing where and when the benefits from environmental services occur is fundamental to understanding the demand for them.

Ecosystem services are extensive and diverse; they can be direct (basic services) or indirect (regulating and cultural services—less tangible and much harder to measure). Many of these goods and services are traditionally viewed as free benefits to society, or “public goods;” lacking a formal market, their critical contributions are often overlooked in public, corporate, and individual decision-making. Estimating their value is essential for evaluating the potential demand for them, and for forming long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic vitality balanced with natural resource conservation.

Provisioning
Services

Regulating
Services

Cultural
Services

Products obtained from ecosystems.

Benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystems.

Non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems.

  • food
  • fresh water
  • wood
  • fibre
  • biochemicals
  • climate control
  • draught and flood mitigation
  • protection of stream
  • and river channels and coastal shores from erosion
  • water purification
  • maintain biodiversity
  • generate and preserve soils and renew their fertility
  • pollination
  • recreation
  • ecotourism
  • educational values
  • aesthetic values
  • cultural heritage

 

One of the services CC Environment & Planning provides is environmental assessment and inventory. We also help with the incorporation of natural and “green” design into your development plans and more.

Environmental Regulations & Ecosystem Service Markets

Environmental regulations set standards to protect natural resources. Industries, businesses, developers, and individuals who change the land or water must either meet these regulatory standards or compensate for the impacts they cannot avoid.

For example, a developer who cannot avoid impacts to a wetland must replace it, either on-site or elsewhere, creating a wetland of equal or greater functioning capacity (Clean Water Act). Cities and industries must clean and cool wastewater before releasing it into a river.

Where impacts cannot be avoided completely, or where a resource can be better protected elsewhere, ecosystem service markets provide a way for regulated parties (buyers) to pay other land and water managers (sellers) to restore wetlands, reconnect river floodplains, preserve prairies and forests, plant trees along streams, or improve the ecosystem in other ways.

Environmental awareness is growing rapidly, as a result there is an increased interest in efforts to inform decision-makers of current versus future costs and benefits of the ecosystem services market. A challenging aspect of this process is that ecosystem services are so extensive and diverse—information collected from one site cannot necessarily be applied at another. Many companies are not fully aware of the extent of their dependence and impact on ecosystems and the possible ramifications. Understanding ecosystem services is essential in aiding economic decisions.

The Ecological Services Market

There is growing interest in harnessing market forces to drive conservation and restoration. Market-based approaches do the following:

  • They identify specific environmental products and services that result from restoring and protecting our environment.
  • They create economic incentives for cities, industries, and businesses that have unavoidable impacts on the environment to fund meaningful conservation and restoration actions.
  • They target conservation and restoration toward strategic locations.
  • They involve the private sector in conservation and restoration and increase cooperation among diverse parties, such as business, environmental, and agricultural interests.
  • They create new business opportunities while increasing the pace, scope, and effectiveness of conservation and restoration by bringing together economy and the environment.

CC Environment & Planning works directly with communities and corporations to balance natural resource conservation with economic vitality. Success is based on a strong network among federal, state, and private natural resource entities, and thus bring together the right people, partners, and resources to build partnerships and increase cooperation, create economic incentives and business opportunities, and identify and develop strategies to minimize impacts and optimize conservation opportunities.

CC Environment & Planning will help you balance development plans with natural resource conservation. It is possible to achieve economic vitality while preserving a healthy environment and a high quality of life.

Further Reading/Links