New study finds biodiversity conservation secures ecosystem services for people

Dec 05, 2007

Healthy ecosystems that provide people with essential natural goods and services often overlap with regions rich in biological diversity, underscoring that conserving one also protects the other, according to a new study.

Titled Global Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the report confirms the value of making biological diversity a priority for conservation efforts. It shows that more than 70 percent of the world’s highest priority areas for biodiversity conservation also contain significant value in ecosystem services such as fresh water, food, carbon storage, storm buffers and other natural resources that sustain human life and support social and economic development.

Scientists from Conservation International (CI), the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, and the Global Environment Facility found that the value of ecosystem services in the 7 percent of the planet of greatest biodiversity conservation priority was more than double the global average. Overall, the annual value of the world’s ecosystem services is estimated at $33 trillion, or greater than the gross national product of all nations combined.

“This paper clearly shows that in many places in the world, strategies targeted at conserving threatened biodiversity also help protect ecosystems, thereby improving human well-being and alleviating poverty,” said Thomas M. Brooks, CI senior director for conservation synthesis and one of the paper’s authors.

The report, published in the November 2007 issue of BioScience magazine, proposes conservation strategies that protect both biological diversity and ecosystem services to increase the efficiency of dollars and efforts spent. It identifies tropical forests as places of particularly high overlap of priorities because of their biological diversity and ecosystem services essential to the welfare of many of the world’s 1 billion people living in extreme poverty.

Significantly, there are many opportunities for conserving both species and ecosystem services together, especially in the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin, Madagascar, Borneo and New Guinea. Protecting these intact forests is critical to reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries while also supporting the livelihoods of traditional and indigenous peoples.

With climate change recognized as the greatest environmental threat facing the planet, the study provides a timely reminder that investments to maintain healthy ecosystems and their restorative powers is cost effective for biodiversity, the livelihoods of local people and economic development, and as a way to protect the CO2 stored in these areas from release.

“Protecting intact tropical forests is critical for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries,” said Will R. Turner, a CI ecologist who also was an author of the paper. “We need to conserve these forests for the benefit of local populations and the world as a whole.”

Restoring destroyed forests also is necessary to help damaged habitat recover, ensure the persistence of species, and restore critical ecosystem services, particularly in regions with large human populations such as Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and much of Southeast Asia.

Source: Conservation International

Explore further: Biologist reels in data to predict snook production

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Time for worldwide fund to save mangroves: UNEP

Sep 29, 2014

World lenders should set up a "Global Mangrove Fund" to protect these hotspots of biodiversity and vital sources of income, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Monday.

Preserving crucial tern habitat in Long Island Sound

Sep 23, 2014

Great Gull Island is home to one of the most important nesting habitats for Roseate and Common terns in the world. The estimated 1,300 pairs of Roseate terns that summer on the 17-acre island at the eastern ...

Alibaba poised to surge on the NYSE

Sep 18, 2014

Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba will say "open sesame" to the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, as its shares begin trading in a highly anticipated debut that could raise up to $25 billion.

Cape Cod saltmarsh recovery looks good, falls short

Sep 17, 2014

After decades of decline, grasses have returned to some once-denuded patches of Cape Cod's saltmarshes. To the eye, the marsh in those places seems healthy again, but a new study makes clear that a key service ...

Global importance of pollinators underestimated

Sep 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Declines in populations of pollinators, such as bees and wasps, may be a key threat to nutrition in some of the most poorly fed parts of the globe, according to new research.

Recommended for you

Team advances genome editing technique

2 hours ago

Customized genome editing – the ability to edit desired DNA sequences to add, delete, activate or suppress specific genes – has major potential for application in medicine, biotechnology, food and agriculture.

User comments : 0