The Consultant - 2006 - (Page 27)

Consultant’s Forum Ecosystem Services: Seller Beware By Jane S. Shaw W ith timber prices low and sawmills closing, owners of forestland are looking for new markets. One market, ecosystem services, is particularly intriguing. It appears to allow owners of timberland to be paid for not harvesting their timber or perhaps harvesting it differently. Owners will be compensated because of the valuable services that standing forests provide. Is this market for real? To some extent, yes. Forest owners are already finding ways to provide services other than by supplying wood or pulp. For example, some are leasing the hunting rights. Others lease the right to enjoy scenic beauty. Think of Grandfather Mountain, the privately owned site in North Carolina that charges admission to visitors so that they can enjoy views that rival those of many national parks. The difficulty is that some advocates have grandiose expectations about marketing “ecosystem services.” Proponents of this market believe that there is an enormous unrealized opportunity for selling services that markets do not currently capture. WHAT ARE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES? The term ecosystem services is defined by Gretchen Daily and Katherine Ellison in their book The New Economy of Nature. They begin with ecosystems, which are “environments of interacting plants, animals and microbes” that range from “coastal tide pools” to “expanses of Amazonian rain forest” (p. 5). Thus, the word “ecosystem” can be applied to forests of varying types and sizes, from Georgia pine to Rocky Mountain Douglas fir. These ecosystems, Daily and Ellison say, “can be seen as capital assets, supplying human beings with a stream of services that sustain and enhance our lives.” So ecosystems not only provide products such as food and fiber, but also services such as the “cleansing of Earth’s air and water, protection from the elements, and refresh- The Katoomba Group is a coalition of environmentalists, financiers and industry executives that reports on existing trades of ecosystem services and tries to bring buyers and sellers together. Its Web site,, is perhaps the best location for finding what kinds of trades in ecosystem services may be available.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2006

Executive Director’s Message
President’s Message
America's Forests – Resilient and Productive
Forests of the Pacific Northwest: Sustainable Use and Resiliency
St. Helens Tree Farm 25 Years After Eruption
Forestry in Gloucester County, Virginia – Past, Present and Future
Ecosystem Services: Seller Beware
Maybe Money Does Grow on Trees …
Protecting Productive Private Property
Hug a Forester…And a Tree
A Practical Course in Forest Consulting
Clare Doig, ACF – A Resilient Forester
A Review of ACF Membership Guidelines
Legislative and Policy Activism: Withstanding the Forces of Man

The Consultant - 2006