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Valuing natural capital in the Quamichan Lake watershed

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This study demonstrates the importance of valuing ecosystem goods and services provided by wetlands and riparian areas in municipal land-use planning. When society ignores the economic values associated with ecosystem goods and services, landowners have an incentive to participate in activities that destroy and degrade natural capital. This is exactly the situation in North Cowichan, British Columbia, where the health of Quamichan Lake is at risk with high levels of eutrophication due to nutrient overloading caused by land-use practices in the watershed. I conduct a contingent valuation survey to estimate the economic benefits provided by a healthy Quamichan Lake. I then use the monetary estimates along with other data and analysis to evaluate policy alternatives that encourage land-use change in the watershed. My analysis illustrates the need and support for policy action and that it is efficient to conserve and protect environmentally significant areas within the watershed.
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