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The Economic Benefits of Protecting Healthy Watersheds

Healthy intact watersheds provide many ecosystem services that are necessary for our social and economic well-being. These services include water filtration and storage, air filtration, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, soil formation, recreation, food and timber. Many of these services have not been monetized and therefore the economic contributions of healthy intact ecosystems are often under-valued when making land use decisions. Ecosystem services provided by healthy watersheds are difficult to replace and most often very expensive to engineer (see chart). An engineered ecosystem service replacement may only provide a fraction of the services provided by highly functioning natural systems.

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