"Then what are the 'crops' that come out of this wild area? Tourism is clearly one that everybody kind of understands. Another one is that these wild areas are definitely the sources for new and interesting molecules to be used in drug discovery and that whole industry called biodiversity prospecting has some potential for wildland areas. Ironically, we can recognize the things we can produce from a wildland area, the hard part is getting the income stream to go back to the wild area. That's the tricky part because people aren't used to voluntarily returning part of an income stream to the source that it comes from. There're two that are very, very visible in today's world.
"One is the whole world now is becoming more and more alarmed about water shortages in one way or another. Not enough water, or too contaminated, or it's not distributed the right way or it won't be available in two years and all these problems. And many, many wildland areas have rivers flowing out of them. Usually they're up on mountains somewhere or at high areas and then the water flows down from that out to the rest of society. The tradition is to think of that as a free good that is just produced by the national park or the wildlife refuge or the national forest or wherever it is, as though it is a kind of an accidental byproduct.
"When in fact, the real way that wild areas should be thought of is as a water factory that actually generates water as a product that you take away in sacks and barrels. If you think of it that way, then it becomes reasonable to think of part of the income stream that comes from the benefits of those waters flowing back into the system then to keep that wild area producing water in the same sense that you were beforehand.
"The same for carbon storage. We all know that there is too much carbon in the air. We have a problem: how do we get it out of the air? One way we get it out of the air is to grow forests back on many of these areas that were sort of wild but were cleared many, many years ago Because when you grow forests back you're sucking carbon out of the air. That's providing a service for the industry that is putting carbon up in the air. Then it's very reasonable for that industry to pay the bills for growing the forests back."