From Beaches to Pine Barrens, a Study Puts Values on New Jersey’s Natural Assets NY Times, Monday, May 21


The report, by economists commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, tries to put a dollar value on the state’s natural resources, from the Jersey Shore to the Kittatinny Mountains, to places like, well, Weehawken.

New Jersey’s cities, which occupy more acreage than almost any other topography in the state, had no environmental value, except for parks, playgrounds and other occasional green spaces. Neither did the rest stops on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The report grew out of an environmental theory that is controversial in some quarters, but seems to be gaining some mainstream adherents. In recent years, number crunchers have been putting dollar values on peat bogs and coral reefs around the world.

Wetlands in Florida, another recent study reported, are worth $11.3 billion each year, or about $3,190 per acre, just for storm protection. In New York, where wetlands are much scarcer, the total is $271 million, or about $20,691 per acre per year. Advocates of the study of “natural capital” or “ecosystem services” — imagine Adam Smith running the Sierra Club — say it is a way to give greater legitimacy to environmental arguments, and make people realize more fully what they give up if they sacrifice nature.



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