Save the date; Gretchen C. Daily to lecture June 13, 2011

View video of three previous speakers
in the Moos Family Speaker series:

Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona
law professor and author,
speaking on sustainability.

Louis J. Guillette Jr., a reproductive
biologist from the Medical University of
South Carolina, speaking on animal
birth defects linked to polluted waters.

Craig A. Cox, senior vice president
of the Environmental Working Group,
speaking on erosion and agricultural pollution

What is a wetland worth? Is it only the price a buyer might pay for the land at the moment? Or does the wetland’s value include the future flood damage or water pollution it may prevent? How do you put a value on any individual natural site’s contribution to keeping plant and animal species from going extinct decades into  the future?

Gretchen C. Daily

Those are the kinds of questions Stanford University ecologist Gretchen Daily has devoted her career to asking and answering.

Daily, a global leader in efforts to protect the environment by attaching monetary value to all the services natural systems provide to humans, will deliver a free public lecture in St. Paul on Monday, June 13.

Her talk – titled “Harmonizing People and Nature: A New Business Model — will be the fifth lecture in the Moos Family Speaker Series co-sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences. She will present the lecture at 5 p.m. in the theater of the St. Paul Student Center on the university’s St. Paul Campus.

Daily, a professor in Stanford’s Department of Biology, was the author with journalist Katherine Ellison of a 2002 book, The New Economy of Nature: The Quest to Make Conservation Profitable.

She also is co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, an interdisciplinary project that combines ecology and economics in an effort to put prices on the benefits that ecosystems provide.  The three founding partners in the Natural Capital Project were Stanford, the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.  Last year, the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment joined the partnership.

The Natural Capital Project has developed a new software system – Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs, or InVEST – under the leadership of University of Minnesota environmental economist Steve Polasky to model future costs and benefits of landscape changes.  Within the next couple of years, InVEST will be available on Google’s new Earth Engine platform to assist decision makers in visualizing and quantifying the implications of alternative scenarios or policies.

“Around the world, leaders are increasingly recognizing ecosystems as natural capital assets that supply life-support services of tremendous value – and foremost among these are water-related services,” Daily said. “The challenge is to turn this recognition into incentives and institutions that will guide wise investments.”

View an Institute on the Environment video — What is Nature Worth? — on ecosystem valuation. Read a 2009 q-and-a interview with Daily from strategy+business, a business magazine published by the international management consulting firm Booz and Corp. Read a 2008 Freshwater Society briefing paper on paying for ecosystem services.

The Moos Family Speaker Series honors the late Malcolm Moos, a former University of Minnesota president.

Recent speakers in the series have been: Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona law professor and author of two books on water sustainability; Hedrick Smith, producer of “Poisoned Waters,” a PBS Frontline documentary on water pollution; Louis J. Guillette Jr., a reproductive biologist at the Medical University of South Carolina who has researched animal  birth defects linked to water pollution; and Craig A. Cox, a senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group who works on agricultural pollution and erosion.

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