Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Does it help conservation to put a price on nature?

October 31, 2014

Putting a price on the services which a particular ecosystem provides may encourage the adoption of greener policies, but it may come at the price of biodiversity conservation. Writing today (30 October) in the journal Science, Professor Bill Adams of the University's Department of Geography argues that assigning a quantitative value to nature does not automatically lead to the conservation of biodiversity, and may in fact contribute to species loss and conflict.

While assigning a monetary value to the benefits of an ecosystem can be an essential tool in the environmental planning process, unequal access to those benefits, particularly where there are differences in wealth and power, can lead to poor trade-offs being made, both for the ecosystem itself and those who rely on it.

"Putting a price on what nature provides is not in itself a conservation measure," said Adams. "There is a risk that traditional conservation strategies oriented toward biodiversity may not be effective at protecting the economic benefits of an ecosystem, and vice-versa."

For example, when stream channels in the US state of Maryland were re-engineered to provide a means of natural flood control, it ended up causing the loss of trees which had been growing next to the water and were unable to adapt to their new, drier environment.

The ways in which we depend on our natural environment are increasingly expressed as 'ecosystem services', or the range of benefits we get from nature for free. These benefits include the provision of food and clean water, erosion control and carbon storage.

Quantifying the value of nature in this way is meant to allow policymakers to consider the potential economic and social impacts of altering a particular habitat.

This approach does sometimes lead to win-win scenarios, where the value of ecosystem services is dependent upon a high level of biodiversity. One example is in the coffee plantations of Costa Rica, where the retention of forest habitat in areas around the plantations doubled the amount of pest control of coffee berry borer beetle provided by birds, which benefitted the coffee farmers while protecting biodiversity.

However, consideration of ecosystem services when making decisions does not automatically lead to retention of biodiversity. "In many cases, trade-offs are made," said Adams.

Several factors cause tension between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. One problem is that the biological and physical processes that guarantee the supply of specific ecosystem services may be different from those that support valued species. An ecosystem that is managed to deliver particular services may not support particular elements of biodiversity.

A second problem is that there are often no markets for some vital services, such as soil formation and nutrient cycling, and while payment schemes can be created to create market-like structures, the value assigned to ecosystem services depends on market prices, which are subject to change.

A third problem arises from the institutional and political processes linking economic benefits from ecosystems and human wellbeing. "Unequal access to benefits, for example where there are differences in wealth and power among stakeholders, can lead to trade-offs being made, with negative impacts for the ecosystem itself and those who rely on it," Adams comments "It's not enough to identify the net benefits of ecosystem services; it also matters who gets them."

For example, in Nepal, research has shown that forests managed by the local community, rather than by the state, yielded benefits of clean water, tourism and harvested wild goods. However, these forests restricted poorer people's access to forest-derived products, creating hardship, illegal use and impacts on other areas.

"In a world run according to economic arguments, the survival of biotic diversity will depend on its price," said Adams. "Sometimes economics will favour conservation and sometimes it won't. But conservationists need to plan for both outcomes."

University of Cambridge


Related Biodiversity Current Events and Biodiversity News Articles


Ecosystems with many and similar species can handle tougher environmental disturbances
How sensitive an ecosystem is to unforeseen environmental stress can be determined, according to Daniel Bruno, previous visiting researcher at Umeå University.

Antarctic fossils reveal creatures weren't safer in the south during dinosaur extinction
A study of more than 6,000 marine fossils from the Antarctic shows that the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs was sudden and just as deadly to life in the polar regions.

We need the full picture to plan for climate change impacts
How can society plan for the future if we only look at individual issues in isolation? Climate change impact studies typically focus on a single sector such as agriculture, forestry or water, ignoring the implications of how different sectors interact.

A 100-million-year partnership on the brink of extinction
A relationship that has lasted for 100 million years is at serious risk of ending, due to the effects of environmental and climate change. A species of spiny crayfish native to Australia and the tiny flatworms that depend on them are both at risk of extinction, according to researchers from the UK and Australia.

Too much sex causes genitals to change shape, beetle study shows
Sexual conflict between males and females can lead to changes in the shape of their genitals, according to research on burying beetles by scientists at the University of Exeter.

Natural regeneration of tropical forests helps global climate mitigation and forest restoration
Climate scientists have long recognized the importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration -- capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Researchers find that Earth may be home to 1 trillion species
Earth could contain nearly 1 trillion species, with only one-thousandth of 1 percent now identified, according to the results of a new study.

Biodiversity protects fish from climate change
Fish provide protein to billions of people and are an especially critical food source in the developing world.

Uncovering the secrets of Arctic seabird colonies
Ninety per cent of Norway's two million pairs of cliff-nesting seabirds are located in nesting colonies above the Arctic Circle.

Natural regeneration of tropical forests reaps benefits
The importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration - capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere - has long been recognized by climate scientists. But, detailed information needed to make accurate estimates of this potential has been missing.
More Biodiversity Current Events and Biodiversity News Articles

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (CitizenKid)

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (CitizenKid)
by Rochelle Strauss (Author), Margot Thompson (Illustrator)


If every known species on Earth were a leaf on a tree, that tree would have 1 750 000 leaves. Since humans count for just one leaf on the tree, we have a lot to learn about the millions of other forms of life with which we share the world. A dazzlingly illustrated and child-friendly introduction to biodiversity, Tree of Life shows how living things are classified into five kingdoms --- and how each has much to tell us about all aspects of life on our planet.

Tree of Life is part of CitizenKid: A collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
by Elizabeth Kolbert (Author)


WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALISTA major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply...

Biodiversity: An Introduction

Biodiversity: An Introduction
by Kevin J. Gaston (Author), John I. Spicer (Author)


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ARTWORK
This concise introductory text provides a complete overview of biodiversity - what it is, how it arose, its distribution, why it is important, human impact upon it, and what should be done to maintain it. Timely overview of the serious attempts made to quantify and describe biodiversity in a scientific way Acts as an easy entry point into the primary literature Provides real-world examples of key issues, including illustrations of major temporal and spatial patterns in biodiversity Designed primarily with undergraduate students and course lecturers in mind, it will also be of interest to anyone who requires an overview of, and entry to, the vast literature on these topics. All the figures included in the book are downloadable from the Blackwell...

Complexity: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity

Complexity: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity
by William C. Burger (Author)


This very readable overview of natural history explores the dynamics that have made our planet so rich in biodiversity over time and supported the rise and dominance of our own species.

Tracing the arc of evolutionary history, biologist William C. Burger shows that cooperation and symbiosis have played a critical role in the ever increasing complexity of life on earth. Life may have started from the evolution of cooperating organic molecules, which outpaced their noncooperating neighbors. A prime example of symbiosis was the early incorporation of mitochondria into the eukaryotic cell (through a process called "endosymbiosis"). This event gave these cells a powerful new source of energy. Later, cooperation was again key when millions to trillions of individual eukaryotic cells...

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity
by Eric Chivian (Editor), Aaron Bernstein (Editor)


The Earth's biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book to examine the full range of potential threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health.

Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists who contributed to writing and reviewing the book, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive--and sobering--view of how human medicines, biomedical research, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food, both on land and in the...

Biodiversity (Papers from the 1st National Forum on Biodiversity, September 1986, Washington, D.C.)

Biodiversity (Papers from the 1st National Forum on Biodiversity, September 1986, Washington, D.C.)
by Edward O. Wilson (Editor), Frances M. Peter (Editor)


This important book for scientists and nonscientists alike calls attention to a most urgent global problem: the rapidly accelerating loss of plant and animal species to increasing human population pressure and the demands of economic development. Based on a major conference sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and the Smithsonian Institution, Biodiversity creates a systematic framework for analyzing the problem and searching for possible solutions.


Biodiversity and Earth History

Biodiversity and Earth History
by Jens Boenigk (Author), Sabina Wodniok (Author), Edvard Glücksman (Author)


This uniquely interdisciplinary textbook explores the exciting and complex relationship between Earth’s geological history and the biodiversity of life. Its innovative design provides a seamless learning experience, clarifying major concepts step by step with detailed textual explanations complemented by detailed figures, diagrams and vibrant pictures. Thanks to its layout, the respective concepts can be studied individually, as part of the broader framework of each chapter, or as they relate to the book as a whole. It provides in-depth coverage of: - Earth’s formation and subsequent geological history, including patterns of climate change and atmospheric evolution; - The early stages of life, from microbial ‘primordial soup’ theories to the fossil record’s most valuable...

The Diversity of Life: With a New Preface (Questions of Science)

The Diversity of Life: With a New Preface (Questions of Science)
by Edward O. Wilson (Author)


View a collection of videos on Professor Wilson entitled "On the Relation of Science and the Humanities""In the Amazon Basin the greatest violence sometimes begins as a flicker of light beyond the horizon. There in the perfect bowl of the night sky, untouched by light from any human source, a thunderstorm sends its premonitory signal and begins a slow journey to the observer, who thinks: the world is about to change." Watching from the edge of the Brazilian rain forest, witness to the sort of violence nature visits upon its creatures, Edward O. Wilson reflects on the crucible of evolution, and so begins his remarkable account of how the living world became diverse and how humans are destroying that diversity.Wilson, internationally regarded as the dean of biodiversity studies, conducts us...

Messages from Islands: A Global Biodiversity Tour

Messages from Islands: A Global Biodiversity Tour
by Ilkka Hanski (Author)


From a small island in the Baltic Sea to the large tropical islands of Borneo and Madagascar, Messages from Islands is a global tour of these natural, water-bound laboratories. In this career-spanning work, Ilkka Hanski draws upon the many islands on which he performed fieldwork to convey key themes in ecology. By exploring the islands’ biodiversity as an introduction to general issues, Hanski helps us to learn how species and communities interact in fragmented landscapes, how evolution generates biodiversity, and how this biodiversity is maintained over time.

Beginning each chapter on a particular island, Hanski dives into reflections on his own field studies before going on to pursue a variety of ecological questions, including: What is the biodiversity crisis? What are...

A World in One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity

A World in One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity
by W. S. Di Piero (Author), Alan Huffman (Author), August Kleinzahler (Author), Elizabeth Kolbert (Author), Nalini M. Nadkarni (Author), Jasper Slingsby (Author), Peter Slingsby (Author), David Liittschwager (Photographer), E. O. Wilson (Photographer)


Twelve inches by twelve inches by twelve inches, the cubic foot is a relatively tiny unit of measure compared to the whole world. With every step, we disturb and move through cubic foot after cubic foot. But behold the cubic foot in nature—from coral reefs to cloud forests to tidal pools—even in that finite space you can see the multitude of creatures that make up a vibrant ecosystem.

For A World in One Cubic Foot, esteemed nature photographer David Liittschwager took a bright green metal cube—measuring precisely one cubic foot—and set it in various ecosystems around the world, from Costa Rica to Central Park. Working with local scientists, he measured what moved through that small space in a period of twenty-four hours. He then photographed the cube’s setting...

© 2017 BrightSurf.com