Wilderness Policy

Nature, wildlife, Wilderness – what are they worth?

This news is in contribution to the centennial celebration of the U.S. National Park Service (part 1)!

Resent an independent survey finds that although United States National Park Service annual budget is around $3 billion, Americans are willing to pay much more! It seems that the Americans think national parks are worth more than they spend on them!

One of the quirks of U.S. government accounting is that nation’s most valuable assets – from aircraft carriers to interstate highways – don’t appear on any national balance sheet.

In part this is because it is hard to put a value on them. How can be calculate the worth of the Washington Monument? And yet, without such a yardstick, it is hard to calibrate just how much money should be spending to maintain and replenish these precious assets over long periods of time.

America’s national parks – often called “America’s best idea” – are a prime example. The National Park Service, which manages the park system, celebrates its 100th birthday this summer. From Yellowstone to Ellis Island, the 412 places that National Park Service protects tell America’s story.

Past attempts to answer this question have typically focused on how much money visitors spend in or around the parks. But that is only a small part of the story. In particular, it doesn’t account for people who don’t visit the parks, but who nevertheless treasure the iconic scenery and want America’s historic battlefields, wildlife habitats and finest seashores to be protected.

In a study released this month and conducted independently of the National Park Service, the authors sought to develop the first-ever comprehensive assessment of what the parks are worth to the public. They calculated that Americans put a total value of US$92 billion per year on U.S. national parks, monuments, seashores and recreation areas. However, what we also concluded is that they are not funding the park system at a level that reflects its value.

This article raises the idea – if we Europeans think also in this way? It raises a questions if we  are also willing to pay and invest more to protect the European natural heritage, biodiversity and finally also a Wilderness? What do you think?

Nature, wildlife, Wilderness - what are they worth?
Are we Europeans willing to pay and invest more to protect the European Wilderness?

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