20 JAN 2012:
VALUE OF CONSERVING HABITATS COULD BE WORTH $500B TO WORLD’S POOR
A new study says that compensating the world’s poorest communities for helping conserve the planet’s most vital habitats would help solve two major challenges: biodiversity loss and poverty. In fact, if global leaders were to put an economic value on the preservation of the world’s biodiversity hotspots — including such benefits as providing food and water and absorbing carbon emissions — it could be worth more than $500 billion annually for 330 million of the world’s poorest people. Since the people who live near these resources typically don’t have the means to protect them, the urgency for such economic mechanisms becomes increasingly critical, according to the study, published in the journal BioScience. “Developed and developing economies cannot continue to ask the world’s poor to shoulder the burden of protecting these globally important ecosystem services for the world’s benefit,” said Will Turner, vice president of Conservation International and lead author of the study. An example of such a scheme is the UN-based REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) initiative, which provides incentives to developing nations to prevent large-scale deforestation.