3: The benefits of the River Lyn ecosystem
Key Question: How can geographers assess the value of an environment?
With clear boundaries along its watershed the River Lyn drainage basin is a good example of a well-defined ecosystem within which a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) interact with numerous non-living elements of the environment such as air, water and soil. Humans are an integral component of ecosystems. During the past decade geographers have begun to recognise the importance of ecosystems and the natural environment, not just from an ecological perspective, but also in terms of the broader benefits they provide to society. These benefits are known as ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are divided into three categories called provisioning services (such as food and water supplies); cultural services (such as spiritual, emotional and health related benefits) and support services (such as oxygen generation and nutrient recycling that are critical to maintaining life on Earth).
Through this enquiry you will have an opportunity to investigate the broader benefits that the River Lyn gives to society and assess such value through both qualitative and quantitative methods. This will enable you to begin to see the River Lyn drainage basin in a much more holistic way which means recognising the importance (and potential economic, social and cultural value) of the whole system and the interdependence of its many component parts.
Investigation 1: What does ‘value’ mean anyway?
Take a good look at the set of the photographs in This Word Document. As you examine them a key question to consider is: What do all of these things have in common? What exactly is each item and who may have owned it? What might it have been used for? What could be the history and events associated with it?
Consolidate your thinking
Each item is in fact the most valuable ever to be sold at auction under the following categories:
- Painting: Women of Algiers by Pablo Picasso: $179.3 million (sold in May 2015)
- Piece of clothing: Dress worn by Marilyn Monroe $1.3 million (when singing ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to President Kennedy in 1962)
- Manuscript: Leonardo da Vinci’s journal $30.8 million (bought by Bill Gates)
- Musical instrument: An Antonio Guarnieri (a student of Stradivarius) violin $3.9 million (250 years old)
- Lock of hair: From Elvis Presley $250,000
- Sculpture: Roman ‘Goddess of the Hunt’ $28.6 million (only 15 cm tall and unearthed at a building site in Rome in 1923)
- Car: Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa $12.2 million (built in 1957 and one of only 21 remaining)
- Piece of furniture: The Badminton Cabinet $36.1 million (18th century ebony chest encrusted with precious stones)
- Diamond: The Wittelsbach diamond $23.4 million (35.56 carat blue diamond)
- Item of sports memorabilia: Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball $3.0 million (McGwire played for the St Louis Cardinals and broke the record for most home runs in a single season in 1998)
- Shoes: Ruby slippers made by Ronald Winston $3.2 million (in fact a replica of the shoes worn by the actress Judy Garland in the film The Wizard of Oz and made of 4600 pieces of rubies and 50 carats of diamonds)
- Handbag: The ‘Geranium Porosus’ bag $125,000 (made by Hermes of crocodile skin and Togo leather with built in ‘feet’)
- Weapon: The gun used to kill Jesse James in 1888 $2.9 million (used by double crossing fellow gang member Bob Ford)
How has ‘value’ been defined in these examples?
This doc is a quote from a recent book. Now, having read this quote, take time now to reflect on the various alternative definitions o f ‘value’. Come up with as many synonyms (a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language).
In the widest sense of the word (as opposed to the narrow definition associated with purely monetary value and profit margins) ‘value’ is ‘the worth of something’ (importance, usefulness, merit, desirability, benefit) etc. It is also of course used to define a code or principles of behaviour associated with the standards and ethical steer by which humans chose to live their lives (or not of course sometimes). Being able to grasp the scope of what we mean by ‘value’ in this way is an essential foundation for accessing this line of enquiry as it unfolds. During the past decade geographers have begun to recognise the value of ecosystems (such as the Lyn) and the environment in general, not just from an ecological perspective, but also in terms of the broader benefits or worth they provide to society.
This broader value and benefits are known as ecosystem services . Ecosystem services are divided into three categories called provisioning services (such as the value to be gained from food and water supplies); cultural services (such as the value of spiritual, emotional and health related benefits) and support services (such as the value of oxygen generation and nutrient recycling that are critical to maintaining life on Earth).
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- Exmoor Learning Resources
- Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning
The River Lyn Enquiry
- Introducing the Lyn Catchment
- Info for Teachers and resources
- 1: The Lynmouth flood disaster of 1952
- 2:The topography of the River Lyn and its catchment
- 3: The benefits of the River Lyn ecosystem
- 4:Writing up your River Lyn enquiry
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