Brussels, 09 August 2002
Maintaining wild places as natural environments brings higher financial gains than developing them, according to new research carried out by UK and US researchers.
The research findings state that the cost-benefit ratio of maintaining wild sites is more than 100 to one in favour of conservation and that each year destruction of wild habitats leads to a loss of 250 billion euro.
The researchers studied five habitats that had been developed and gauged the benefits. They included a Canadian marsh drained for agriculture and a tropical rain forest in Cameroon destroyed for small scale agriculture and commercial plantations. They found that roughly half of the ecosystem's total economic value was lost when it was converted to human use.
Loss of storm and flood protection, hunting, tourism and other elements all led to a lower economic value following development. One of the authors, Andrew Balmford, highlighted his surprise at the results. 'We thought that the numbers would favour conservation, but not this much.'