MAR 09, 2017 08:36 AM PST

An economic argument for biodiversity


Environmental conservation is often looked at as a juxtaposition from pro-economy development. But that idea is hardly the case when it comes to biodiversity. Scientists have actually done studies that prove that biodiversity translate directly into economic gains. Forests with a greater variety of tree species ultimately thrive more, growing faster and bigger trees than forests with fewer species. This makes sense because different species bring various survival techniques to the forest, so instead of competing with each other for the same resources, they are able to apply different methods of nourishing themselves. In the logging industry such biodiversity adds up to more timber available. In fact, diversified forests produce 35% percent timber than forests stands with one species. That adds up to $200 billion each year!

This phenomenon is called a diversity dividend, and it's not only at work in forests. Farms that have a variety of pollinator species (who all pollinate at various times in the season), are able to insure more productive crops (and therefore profits). In rivers and lakes, the more species of bacteria that eat toxins, the less money we end up spending on clean-up projects. Such ecosystem services, as we can call them, provide important economic support, and though we should be careful of putting a dollar sign on nature, the philosophy of valuing ecosystems is crucial in our path forward as a planet.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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