The Puyallup River Watershed: An Ecological Economic Characterization
This document presents an ecological economic characterization of the Puyallup River Watershed, located in Washington State, USA. The primary goal of such a characterization is to understand nature and the human economy as a single system. Identifying and valuing nature’s contribution to the economy enables better decisions that improve local and regional quality of life. The study introduces the watershed, geography and other relevant features. Ecological economics is a recent advancement in economics and provides an integrated approach to managing a watershed’s economy and ecosystems. Using benefit transfer methodology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, the ecosystem services of the Puyallup River Watershed are identified and valued. Not all ecosystem services identified can be valued; 19 ecosystem services were valued in this study. Results show that ecosystems in the Puyallup River Watershed provide $566 million to $5 billion in benefits to the regional economy every year. This includes flood risk reduction, salmon habitat, aesthetic value, biological control and nutrient cycling. Applications of ecological economics and ecosystem service valuation are discussed. Specific recommendations are offered for the Puyallup River Watershed economy.