Researchers Estimate the Price of Global Biodiversity at $76 Billion


Spending will need to increase by “at least an order of magnitude” to meet the conservation targets set by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Researchers have estimated that protecting all of the world’s threatened species will cost $4 billion a year. Effectively conserving the significant areas that these species live in will cost more than $76 billion a year.

The scientists published their findings in the journal Science. Stuart Butchart, conservation scientist at BirdLife International in Cambridge, UK, admits that these numbers seem quite large. However, in terms of governmental budgets, he believes they are trivial.


The cash needed to conserve the world’s species is a small price for biodiversity’s “goods and services,” researchers say.

The researchers also indicate that the value of ecosystem services that nature provides, such as pollination and carbon sinks, are estimated between $2 trillion and $6 trillion a year. Under the internationally agreed Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), governments have committed to meeting 20 conservation targets by 2020, including the improvement of the conservation status of threatened species. Butchart and his team asked experts on 211 threatened bird species to estimate the cost of lowering the extinction risk for each species by one category on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

In order to improve the status of the world’s 1,115 threatened bird species, the team concluded that it would cost between $875 million and $1.23 billion a year for the next decade. When other animals are added to this total, the cost rises to $3.41 billion to $4.76 billion a year.

The exact amount being spent now to meet the convention’s targets is unclear, but spending will need to increase by “at least an order of magnitude,” Butchart says.

Reference: “Financial Costs of Meeting Global Biodiversity Conservation Targets: Current Spending and Unmet Needs” by Donal P. McCarthy, Paul F. Donald, Jörn P. W. Scharlemann, Graeme M. Buchanan, Andrew Balmford, Jonathan M. H. Green, Leon A. Bennun, Neil D. Burgess, Lincoln D. C. Fishpool, Stephen T. Garnett, David L. Leonard, Richard F. Maloney, Paul Morling, H. Martin Schaefer, Andy Symes, David A. Wiedenfeld and Stuart H. M. Butchart, 11 October 2012, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229803

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