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The Gateway is for the conservation practitioner, scientist and decision-maker. Here we share the best and most up-to-date information we use to inform our work at The Nature Conservancy.

Valuing Nature: Why Protected Areas Matter for Economic and Human Wellbeing

L. Emerton; L. Pabon-Zamora

Human wellbeing across the globe depends intimately on the state of natural ecosystems, and any threat to nature runs the risk of imposing untenable economic costs to almost every sector and social group. Far from being a luxury that governments and the international community cannot afford, nature conservation is something that they cannot afford not to invest in. It is absolutely fundamental to sustaining human development, now and in the future. Unfortunately, nature is rarely appreciated as a productive economic asset which is a valuable public good and therefore requires high public investment. The flows of funds and other resources which are allocated to conservation remain pitifully low. In many cases they are actually declining. The Nature Conservancy has been working to set the record straight. Eleven studies are being carried out to compile information about how some of the world’s richest countries in biodiversity terms also generate immensely valuable goods and services – locally, nationally, and even at the global level. The evidence that has been uncovered points to a clear conclusion. Investing in conservation yields tremendously high development returns, and there is little doubt that continuing to under-value nature will prove extremely costly in economic terms, not just for biodiversity-rich countries, but for the whole world.