Largest study of its kind—62 sites worldwide—finds that in most cases economic value is higher when nature is protected or restored, rather than converted.
The economic benefits of conserving or restoring natural sites “outweigh” the profit potential of converting them for intensive human use, according to the largest-ever study comparing the value of protecting nature at particular locations with that of exploiting it.
Researchers from the University of Vermont, the University of Cambridge and other institutions analyzed dozens of sites – from Kenya to Fiji and China to the UK across six continents. The study was published in Nature Sustainability.
The scientists calculated the monetary worth of each site’s “ecosystem services” such as carbon storage and flood protection, as well as likely dividends from converting it for production of goods such as crops and timber.
The team initially concentrated on 24 sites and compared their “nature-focused” and “alternative” states by working out the annual net value of a range of goods and services for each site under each state, then projected the data over the next 50 years.
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