Visualizing the Value of Nature

Visualizing the Value of Nature

Earlier this year, we tasked our community with the challenge of visualizing the value of nature and the use of natural capital. The concept is a new one yet it carries weight: if we can assess the costs of biodiversity loss or deforestation, can we force people to re-think what it is that they value?

The ecosystems that supply our fuel, food, water, and stable climate have no price. Instead the gross domestic product, or GDP – our principle economic measure of success – excludes the ecosystems and the services they provide, rendering them non-valuable. To turn this around, the TEEB project embarked on a ground breaking study: a comprehensive analysis of the global economic benefit of biological diversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity, and the failure to take protective measures vs. the costs of effective conservation.

In collaboration with TEEB, we challenged the design community to take this data and make it more understandable to the general public.

Congratulations to Jacob Houtman for taking the win!

The Value of Nature – Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity visualization was deemed the most effective at showing how we are using our natural resources and provided an informative and fun tool for people to explore the issue by country and by sector. The interactive map covers each country around the world, visually depicting the difference between the country’s capacity and footprint. Unsurprisingly, the States has a deficit given it’s footprint is much larger than its capacity!

An Honorable Mention goes to:
Jan Willem Tulp

The Economic Benefit of Stopping Deforestation

The Economic Benefit of Stopping Deforestation was an innovative, stylish, and sophisticated approach at visualizing the monetary benefits of conservation. The visualization showed the economic value of the Leuser Ecosystem through three scenarios: using trees but replanting them, using trees and not replanting them, and not using trees at all.

Thank you to everyone that entered the challenge – we loved your work. A special thank to you to our Jury as well.

Interested in submitting your own visualization? Our current challenge on urban water is underway. Tap into the world's stream of water data for our World Water Day Data Visualization Challenge and win $5,000 (two runner-ups each get $500).

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Alessandra's picture

Nice social and ecological project.