I recently came across an excellent article from High Country News that’s well worth highlighting. The article addresses the role of forests in providing valuable ecosystem “services” to communities —such as clean drinking water—and the novel approach of having cities and towns contribute financially to receiving those services. In other words, communities help pay for the forest restoration activities that buffer them from catastrophic wildfires and that directly protect the quality and quantity of their drinking water.
While this economic experiment is not without controversy (what forest-related issue isn’t?), it advances a positive solution for maintaining healthy communities and forests that’s hard to deny. Our watersheds are in desperate need of care, and with shrinking federal budgets, who else is willing and able to step up to the plate to protect them? Which leads to my next thought…
Might people have a much better appreciation for well-managed forests (and the role of sustainable forestry as a conservation tool) if they’re contributing to maintain them? Most likely, yes. At least it should. Take money from our wallets and we tend to notice. Working, community-financed ecosystem projects should open up greater opportunities for discussion in classrooms and other public forums, sending a (hopefully) clear message that the responsibility of creating healthy watersheds rests on an increased participation from both on-the-ground forest professionals and the public at large.
This is an exciting model—supplying an environmental solution that’s good for forests, good for people, and good for the forest products industry. Click here to read the article and then let me know what you think in the comments section below.