Nature’s Fortune
Mark Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams
Basic Books, April 2013

What is nature worth? The answer to this question—which traditionally has been framed in environmental terms—is revolutionizing the way we do business.

In Nature’s Fortune, Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former investment banker, and science writer Jonathan Adams argue that nature is not only the foundation of human well-being, but also the smartest commercial investment any business or government can make. The forests, floodplains and oyster reefs often seen simply as raw materials or as obstacles to be cleared in the name of progress are, instead, as important to our future prosperity as technology or law or business innovation.

Who invests in nature, and why? What rates of return can it produce? When is protecting nature a good investment? With stories from the South Pacific to the California coast, from the Andes to the Gulf of Mexico and even to New York City, Nature’s Fortune shows how viewing nature as green infrastructure allows for breakthroughs not only in conservation—protecting water supplies; enhancing the health of fisheries; making cities more sustainable, livable and safe; and dealing with unavoidable climate change—but in economic progress, as well. Organizations obviously depend on the environment for key resources—water, trees and land. But they can also reap substantial commercial benefits in the form of risk mitigation, cost reduction, new investment opportunities and the protection of assets. Once leaders learn how to account for nature in financial terms, they can incorporate that value into the organization’s decisions and activities, just as habitually as they consider cost, revenue and ROI. Such a rethinking of “natural capital”—nature as a quantifiable asset—can not only increase profitability, but provide crucial protection against the kinds of climate change-driven phenomena—like devastating drought and hundred-year floods—that are no longer the stuff of speculation.

A must-read for business leaders, CEOs, investors and environmentalists alike, Nature’s Fortune offers an essential guide to the world’s economic—and environmental—well-being.

About the Authors

Mark R. Tercek is president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy. Tercek was previously a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he played a key role in developing the firm’s environmental strategy. He lives in Washington, DC.

Jonathan S. Adams is a science writer and conservationist. He is the author most recently of The Future of the Wild: Radical Conservation for a Crowded World, and co-editor of Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States. He lives in Rockville, Maryland.