U.S. Endowment Studies Payments for Watershed Services

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On December 6, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities announced that it had created a Watershed Protection Database, to compile and compare information on programs in various communities to dedicate special assessments on consumers’ water bills to watershed protection projects, as an element of what sounds like a very ambitious goal: “the Endowment is focusing on projects and strategies that engage water-users in sustainable approaches to conserve their forested watersheds. This includes watershed protection fees, developing water as a forest ecosystem service market, and other approaches to monetize water.”

One occasionally sees attempts to estimate values of “ecosystem services” in terms that invite direct comparison with other commodities. We imagine forest managers are both intrigued and apprehensive.