News Release

REF NO.: 0


DATE: March 30, 2007

The public is advised that a lecture examining the value of nature will be webcast by Sir Wilfred Grenfell College on Monday, April 2. The lecture is called What is Nature Worth? Looking at our Natural Resources through New Eyes. The link to join the lecture is www.mun.ca/harriscentre.
When people don't value nature in the same way as we do, we get confrontations on the ice, boycotts of restaurants and protests at the Canadian Embassy. Such events have occurred in relation to the seal hunt, hydroelectric developments, forest harvesting, and other activities. 
It all comes down to values. In some cases, one side wants to develop something for its economic value while the other wants to preserve it in its natural state. In other cases, it's two different development alternatives that are in conflict. When these conflicts occur, it's like the two parties are talking two different languages.
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College wants to see whether a bridge can be created when two opposite points of view conflict in this way. Dr.Murray Rudd, a professor in environmental economics at the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, will lead a discussion on this topic on the evening of Monday, April 2nd, in Corner Brook. The session begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in room
LC-301 on the College campus.
Dr. Rudd will be accompanied by three panelists. Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, a faculty member in the Department of Geography at Memorial University in St. John's, specializing in natural resource sustainability and community development. Dan Chaisson, manager of outdoor product with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, based in Corner Brook. And Jim Taylor, general manager of the Western Newfoundland Model Forest, also located at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.
What is Nature Worth? Looking at Our Natural Resources Through New Eyes, session is open to the general public, who will have an opportunity to engage the speakers during a discussion period. Admission is free and includes a reception afterwards, sponsored by the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development. Free parking is available on campus.
The field of "environmental economics" is a relatively new discipline which looks at resolving disputes in how people use natural resources. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are all too familiar with many of these disputes. Fish, wildlife, forests and water all support important industries, traditional activities, rural communities and ways of life in this province.
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 of looking at a traditional resource. What if we applied a similar lens to look at other 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 this mean putting a cost on everything and a value on nothing?
The field of "environmental economics" provides alternative principles for valuing 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.
Viewers watching the webcast will be able to submit comments or questions to the speakers by e-mail.

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