It takes all kinds

This is a follow-up to the posts on Christie Lovat’s seminar on the economics of ecologically managed golf courses.

Previous posts have described the seminar content well, so I won’t repeat those posts here, but I will pick up on two themes which I find interesting. First, while the speaker encouraged greater ecological awareness among golf course managers, the seminar maintained a realistic perspective on the need to understand the economics of golf courses. The seminar dealt not just with  environmental issues (the resources used to maintain golf courses, the biodiversity that can be protected by supportive golf course environments, the implications of using land for courses, the impact of climate on course choices, etc.) but also with the economics of the golfing industry and with related aspects of our society. We learned about how customers can be encouraged to come to the golf course, how golf courses could realistically brand themselves as partially contributing to environmental stewardship, how efficiencies are gained from managing resources ecologically, and how new courses can be built more economically and ecologically at the same time. We also learned a bit about our society when she spoke of people’s preferences for aesthetically pleasing courses, how much we value outdoor recreation, and our desire to maintain personal fitness. To me, this multifaceted approach exemplified the spirit of sustainable development. The seminar raised many questions, like how many courses are too many, the potential impacts of regulation or standards setting in restricting course design and maintenance, whether there is evidence that ecologically branded golf courses attract more clients, etc. For a third year botanical science student Ms. Lovat did a fine job and maintained a good perspective on her subject.

The second theme, actually an elaboration of the first, was raised by free_of_charge: do we need to consider the economic value of nature before protecting our environment? The answer is no, as long as you don’t have any economic needs/wants. If you want to convince the people that do (i.e. most people on the planet) then you need to at least understand the connection between meeting those needs/wants and the environment. Modern society has allowed us to be very dissociated from the ecosystems that service our economic needs/wants, therefore to convince most people of the importance of protecting those environments you have to demonstrate how ecosystems are connected to the coffee they buy every morning, or the paper they read, or the golf game they play.

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