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The business case for nature is strong

They’re beautiful, awe-inspiring and breathtaking. And in addition to the benefits parks have on our physical and mental health, they have hard economic value, as well.

For every dollar invested in provincial and national parks, $6 in benefits is returned to the Canadian economy, according to federal government studies. Canada’s international reputation for its wilderness is one of the key reasons many visitors come here. Both visitors to Canada and Canadians spend money on food, equipment, hotels, and outfitting guides. It’s no wonder that we generate such positive economic spinoffs. 

It turns out money really does grow on trees. If you take into account the economic value of replacing the services that nature provides us for free, the real economic value starts to shine through.

What will it cost us to replace the clean water produced by our streams, rivers and lakes? The fresh water that occurs naturally in our wilderness, cleaned by mosses and plants, filtered by fish and micro-organisms, all happen for us without payment. Yet our modern-day economic system assesses no value to these natural systems until they are divided into pieces and sold off.

Our trees have no identified economic value until they are cut down for consumer use. The air, food and habitat they provide mean nothing to us in the global financial system. Yet the very foundations of our own survival, air and water, are the products of healthy intact ecosystems. What price are we willing to pay to get those back once they’ve been lost?

Parks and protected areas also save us money by helping to prevent natural disasters, like floods, stabilizing soil, preventing coastline erosion. Trees and vegetation provide a sponge-like effect for big rainstorms so that they don’t all rush into rivers and lakes. They store carbon to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Natural corridors provide species of animals and plants to migrate as the climate changes too.

All of this reminds us that the battle between the environment and the economy is not a real division. They are interdependent and work closely together. Our parks provide us with enormous financial and economic support beyond all of the other benefits we gain from them.

With your help, we can make sure parks will continue to contribute economically, physically and socially well into the future.

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