Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Human Health Concerns Stop Logging Project

Here's a neat story about human health concerns -- about drinking water quality -- stopping a logging project in British Columbia.

It's a nice illustration of how the benefits people reap from sustainably managing forests can be made clear by the threats posed by unsustainable management practices.

According to the article, the response from the local community has been very positive:

Barry Janyk, who is both the mayor of the town of Gibsons and a member of the regional district board that approved the order in a vote Saturday, said the public response to the decision has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We've heard nothing but praise, without exception. … There's a sense justice has been upheld,” Mr. Janyk said from Gibsons.

Mr. Janyk said that during five days of hearings, the regional district heard conflicting statements on the impact of logging on drinking water. In the end the directors decided to opt on the side of caution.

He then posed a very interesting question that gets to the heart of current efforts to devise ways for forest owners to make a living by maintaining environmental services (such as protection of drinking water supplies) provided to society by their lands:

“This really goes to the whole principle of is it worth the risk?” he said of weighing the economic worth of logging against the value of clean drinking water.

Right now, even though both logging and clean drinking water have lots of value to human communities, forest owners can make money by logging their land, but not so easily by maintaining its "ecosystem service" of providing clean drinking water. Groups like the Natural Capital Project are working to change this. I look forward to following their progress!

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