The economic consequences of conserving or restoring sites for nature

Bradbury, Richard B. and Butchart, Stuart H. M. and Fisher, Brendan and Hughes, Francine M. R. and Ingwall-King, Lisa and MacDonald, Michael A. and Merriman, Jennifer C. and Peh, Kelvin S. -H. and Pellier, Anne-Sophie and Thomas, David H. L. and Trevelyan, Rosie and Balmford, Andrew (2021) The economic consequences of conserving or restoring sites for nature. Nature Sustainability, 4. pp. 602-608. ISSN 2398-9629

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Nature provides many benefits for people, yet there are few data on how changes at individual sites impact the net value of ecosystem service provision. A 2002 review found only five analyses comparing the net economic benefits of conserving nature versus pursuing an alternative, more intensive human use. Here we revisit this crucial comparison, synthesizing recent data from 62 sites worldwide. In 24 cases with economic estimates of services, conservation or restoration benefits (for example, greenhouse gas regulation, flood protection) tend to outweigh those private benefits (for example, profits from agriculture or logging) driving change to the alternative state. Net benefits rise rapidly with increasing social cost of carbon. Qualitative data from all 62 sites suggest that monetization of additional services would further increase the difference. Although conservation and restoration did not universally provide greater net value than the alternative state, across a large, geographically and contextually diverse sample, our findings indicate that at current levels of habitat conversion, conserving and restoring sites typically benefits human prosperity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Environmental economics, Sustainability
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 15:31
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2021 14:00

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