What is nature worth? From one perspective, it’s priceless. From another, it’s not only valuable, but value-able as well. Stanford University conservation biologist Gretchen Daily, who gave wings to the concept of ecosystem services in the 1990s, is working around the world to help policymakers recognize the economic worth of the benefits nature provides.

A leading light in the ecology world, Daily co-founded the Natural Capital Project with The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund in 2006 as a mechanism for putting nature on the payroll. Her books, The New Economy of Nature and Nature’s Services, have pioneered entirely new approaches to conservation.

We caught Daily on her way to Hawaii, where her project team is reforesting pasture to help meet carbon sequestration goals, resulting from the state’s 2007 climate law.

This interview originally appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Momentum magazine, Ensia’s predecessor, under the title “Eco-Nomics.”