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15
Nov
09

Big profit from nature protection

Money invested in protecting nature can bring huge financial returns, according to a major investigation into the costs and benefits of the natural world.

And so starts yesterday’s article from BBC News reporting on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study (Teeb). The international project has been looking at the economic value of natural systems and the services they provide. A cited example is a grassland conservation area in New Zealand that supplies the Otago region with free water that would cost $100m per year to bring in from elsewhere.

It’s great they have used an NZ example as this article comes just one day after New Zealand got slammed for ‘greenwashing’ by Fred Pearce in The Guardian. Pearce says:

“But my prize for the most shameless two fingers to the global community goes to New Zealand, a country that sells itself round the world as “clean and green”.”

……………….

Agricultural intensification over the past 10 years has led to the highest rate of native vegetation loss since European colonisation.

So says the 2009 annual report of Landcare Research, a Crown Research Institute, in an article about ‘Post-capitalism conservation’.

Landcare argues that the market is disconnected from natural capital, a problem that has contributed to the current economic crisis. Land biodiversity in New Zealand is a good example: where natural vegetation has been cleared away for intensive farming. This results in:

increased risk to the ongoing supply of essential goods and services (such as clean water) provided by biodiversity, as well as its intrinsic aesthetic and intellectual value.

………………

New Zealand has to stand up and take notice. The country’s branding of 100% Pure has not just been for the sake of tourism. The spill over effect has been New Zealand products are also considered superior because of it.

New Zealand has a unique opportunity to actually back up our branding and be the real deal.

We need to refuse to let genetically modified organisms be introduced into the ecosystem.

We need to grow highly nutritious produce as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

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