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Sydni Rucks

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What are ecosystem services that you rely on everyday? Are you willing to pay for them?

Ecosystem services are what we gain from an ecosystem, be it medicines, clean water, or any cultural and spiritual benefits we get from nature. Ecosystem services are not specific to the science realm and they are open to interpretation based on our individual views. What ecosystem services do you value?

Although ecosystem services have monetary value, determining pricing has proven challenging. For example, every time you shop for produce, you can choose to support the ecosystem services offered by organic farming. There has been a boom in the organic foods market due to the ever-growing assumption that organic farming methods contribute to ecosystem services including increased pollination (bee populations are higher due to larger production of flowers on organic farms), increased biodiversity, natural pest control, and natural soil fertility. Are these methods worth the extra cost at the grocery store? What factors do you consider when making your choice between conventionally and organically grown produce? What are ways to promote organic farming, or more generally the valuation of ecosystem services, so that more people will be inspired to pay for the benefits?

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    Apr 30 2012: Although I am a supporter of organic farming, I do not fixate on the organic label when shopping. There are a couple items I always buy organic, such as milk and eggs, but this is due to my personal taste preferences along with the health factor. My minimal student budget is probably the main reason I am not a bigger financial supporter of organic foods. In my daily life, the ecosystem services that I value most are cultural. I am more than willing to pay entrance fees at state and national parks, campgrounds, and recreation areas. Strolling on the beach with my dogs is priceless, and there is nothing like a good hike to a backcountry lake to sit on the peaceful shore and fish. If a price were to be put on the cultural ecosytem services, I would probably pay it.
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      Apr 30 2012: I'm glad you brought up cultural ecosystem services, it's rare that people look at that as a contribution. I'm from California and there has been a cut back on state and national parks funding, causing some of the less popular parks to close. What do you think are ways to keep these parks open? Marketing or capitalizing on the benefit people get from being outdoors?
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      May 1 2012: I think I also value cultural ecosystem services most highly. While it is true that many are required for survival, like clean air and water, without the mountains and lakes and the enjoyment I get from being in nature, I might as well not be surviving. Nothing relaxes me more then being in the middle of nowhere and seeing nature at it's finest, the further away from the touch of man the better. A high price tag on these would be acceptable to me, although I do already pay for some of this with park passes.
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      May 1 2012: Cultural ecosystem services are important to me as well. Being able to go out into natural areas is important to me because I generally feel much more relaxed after going to a national park or recreational area. I personally think the cost of maintaining trails and recreational areas is well worth it since I get great benefit from these areas. For parks that aren't funded very well, I believe volunteers are important for keeping those parks open. Given some of Oregon's budget problems, it will be important for locals to volunteer and maintain these parks.

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