Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ecosystem services approach boosts investment in conservation

Environmental Research Web: The ecosystem services approach to habitat conservation assigns a value – both economic and social – to facilities such as food and shelter that an ecosystem can supply to people. It can be highly successful in protecting land that is already exploited rather than pure wilderness. But there’s some concern that it may divert funding from more traditional biodiversity-based conservation projects.

With this in mind, a team from Stanford University, US, and US conservation organization The Nature Conservancy has found that ecosystem service projects attract on average more than four times as much funding as biodiversity projects, through increased corporate sponsorship and their use of a wider variety of finance tools. The researchers found that ecosystem projects expanded opportunities for conservation – they did not draw down limited financial resources for conservation but instead engaged more diverse funders.

"Traditionally conservation approaches focused on biodiversity-only goals: conserving special places and animals without including people," Rebecca Goldman of The Nature Conservancy told environmentalresearchweb. "In the United States, this approach gave rise to our National Parks which people can access, but such parks are still ultimately a protection strategy rather than an integration strategy."

According to Goldman, ecosystem services offer the potential to integrate humans and conservation. "They could link the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of natural resources to advancement of human welfare and human well-being," she said. "Doing this could be a potentially huge advance for conservation in the face of a growing human population."…

Thomas Cole's view of the garden of Eden (1848), Wikimedia Commons

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