Forests, lakes, rivers, grasslands, estuaries and other natural areas all provide us with a variety of benefits. The benefits we receive from our natural areas include anything from food and water resources to the less noticeable benefits such as erosion control and carbon sequestration.
Forests in the United States provide many economic, social and environmental benefits. These lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy every year from visitor spending alone. In the United States, about 15 years of net carbon emissions are stored in forests, managing and lowering effects of global climate change. Many studies have reported improved focus, lowered stress and happier demeanor in humans after being in a natural setting. Because forest benefits are free, the economic value of these benefits are hard to estimate, but the benefits and resources we receive from them are endless.
What are Ecosystem Services?
Ecosystem services is a term used to refer to benefits that we receive from forests, grasslands and other natural areas.
Ecosystem services are defined as the services or benefits that people receive from ecosystems. An ecosystem is defined as the people, animals, plants, and microorganisms that interact with one another and the nonliving elements within an area or place. Therefore, these services could be anything from delivery of food and water to the less noticeable services such as erosion control and carbon sequestration.
How do I pay for these services and what are they worth?
Currently, we do not have an estimate for the total value of all ecosystems and the benefits they provide. Because most services are free, for example, clean air, water, erosion and flood control, we are unable to asses how much these services are valued at. Some payments, such as government or public payments, do help keep these areas intact and clean. The government can also compensate private landowners for keeping their private land clean and protected.