In a feature story in its Global Edition Science Section this week, the New York Times showcased the work of ecologist Gretchen Daily, IonE fellow Stephen Polasky and their Natural Capital Project colleagues. The team, hailing from the U of M, Stanford, the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, has developed a tool businesses and governments can use to incorporate the value of nature's services into planning and decision making.
The tool, InVEST, is starting to be used around the world to include valuable but often ignored functions such as protecting water quality and preventing soil erosion into decisions about whether and how to alter natural landscapes. InVEST helps identify when leaving land alone - or steering use in certain directions - produces an economically more beneficial outcome n the long run than activities that are traditionally seen as the big money makers, such as draining wetlands, harvesting and selling trees, or building homes or shopping centers.
Read the New York Times article, "An Economist for Nature Calculates the Need for More Protection," to get a sense for what Daily, Polasky and colleagues are up to. And when you're done, check out this fun and insightful 3-minute video: