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Ecosystem Services Podcast Tutorials

Valuing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services
Peter M. Kareiva (NAS)

Chief Scientist
The Nature Conservancy

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My day job is to serve as Vice President and Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which is a non-governmental conservation organization that employs ~4000 staff and 600 scientists spread among 40 countries and every state in the US. TNC’s mission is to conserve and restore the lands and waters that sustain life on earth.   Although many think of TNC as a giant land trust that buys land (we still do) and that buys easements (we still do), we realized twenty years ago that buying land can never amount to enough in the face of our environmental challenges.    So now we experiment with everything from buying back fishing trawlers, to working with hydropower companies and DOW corporation, to establishing water funds.  We use science to identify emerging problems and trends, to suggest strategies (management and policy and incentives), to guide our resource allocation, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions we make so that we can adjust our actions in response to data.  When I took my job at TNC I decided that the valuation of ecosystem services, and in turn policy and investments based on that valuation, was the key to conservation.  This means I am interested in the science of ecosystem services, the application of that science to actual decisions, and to the communication of that science in a public arena.  This is why I am also a founding partner of the Natural Capital Project, along with Steve Polasky, Gretchen Daily, and Taylor Ricketts.