Fool’s Gold in the Catskill Mountains: Thinking Critically about the Ecosystem Services Paradigm

  • Douglas J. McCauley


PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT TREND in conservation science this decade is “ecosystem services,” typically defined as economic benefits derived from species and ecosystems. Ecosystem services form the basis of new market-centric mechanisms for conservation sometimes referred to as the “new conservation.” The logic underlying this movement is that if we could properly quantify the economic value of nature, decision makers would suddenly recognize the folly of environmental destruction. In the words of key proponents of this so-called new conservation, conservationists must “jettison their idealized notions of nature, parks, and wilderness” and “partner with corporations in a science-based effort to integrate the value of nature’s benefits into their operations and cultures.”


Ecosystem Service Forest Fragment Nile Perch Idealize Notion Catskill Mountain 
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© by the Foundation for Deep Ecology 2015

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  • Douglas J. McCauley

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