What is Nature Worth?
Looking at Our Natural Resources Through New Eyes
Monday, April 2, 2007, at 7:30 pm
Library and Computing Building, room LC-301
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Corner Brook
Check back soon to view the video of this event.
- Dr. Murray Rudd, Canada Research Chair in ecological economics at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College (download his presentation)
- Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Canada Research Chair in natural resource development and community sustainability at Memorial University
- Dan Chaisson, Manager of Outdoor Product Development with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, based in Corner Brook
- Jim Taylor, General Manager of the Western Newfoundland Model Forest, based in Corner Brook
The environment – our “natural capital” – provides Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with many things which we value. Fish, wildlife, forests and water all support important industries, traditional activities, rural communities and ways of life.
For example, people have been hunting seals since they first settled here hundreds of years ago. But, in Europe especially, other values have been attached to seals in recent years, and these values are in conflict with those held by many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. If Europeans now wish to close down this fishery, should they compensate those whose livelihoods they would take away? Is a seal pelt worth less if it stays on the seal than if it is transformed into a coat?
This is a radically new way for us to look at a traditional resource. What if we applied a similar lens to look at all of our natural resources? Can we put a price on an endangered species, an undisturbed view, or a traditional outport? Even if we can, should we, or does pricing the ‘priceless’ mean putting a cost on everything and a value on nothing?
The field of “environmental economics” gives us tools to look at our natural resources in a new way. It provides us with alternative principles for valuing our natural resources and for integrating them into important development decisions. It is especially useful where there is a strong divergence of values on how a particular resource should be used.